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2022 Deerfield Park District Announced as a Finalist for the National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation Management

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce Deerfield Park District as finalists for the 2022 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Musco Lighting, LLC continues its 20+ years as the proud sponsor of the National Gold Medal Awards program.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation and one class, awarded on odd-numbered years, for state park systems.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. Four finalists in each class are chosen to compete for grand honors each year.

Upon hearing that Deerfield Park District had been chosen as a Gold Medal Finalist, Executive Director Jeff Nehila stated, “We are extremely grateful for the recognition, and we look forward to sharing this honor with such a great and supportive community.”

Deerfield Park District’s application focused on maximizing services for residents by cultivating unique, well-designed, lasting partnerships. Additionally, our 2021-2026 Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency award approval highlighted our local government cooperation, Intergovernmental Agreements and shared services.

In announcing the 2022 National Gold Medal Finalists, AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, “Each Finalist is commended for receiving this prestigious award. We know local communities and military installations worldwide continue to meet the demands of delivering services during the COVID 19 pandemic which includes increased visitations at trails, parks, playgrounds, and greenways. Park visitors and program participants rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this continuing pandemic. The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time.”

Illinois agencies that have gained finalist status in their population category include:

Class V (population less than 30,000)

  • Deerfield Park District, Deerfield, IL

Class IV (population 30,001 – 75,000)

  • Hoffman Estates Park District, Hoffman Estates, IL
  • Park District of Oak Park, Oak Park, IL

Class III (population 75,001 – 150,000)

  • Champaign Park District, Champaign, IL
  • Waukegan Park District, Waukegan, IL

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation both locally and nationally.

In reaching this stage of the competition, each finalist is required to submit a 5-minute video highlighting our agency’s programs and services. The Deerfield Park District Gold Medal Video Submission can be viewed below.

Deerfield Park District: AAPRA National Gold Medal Award Program Submission

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honor, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced at the 2022 NRPA Annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ, Sept. 20-22, 2022.

For information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit AAPRA or NRPA.

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit