Governor Ron DeSantis today announced the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service was awarded the 2019 National Gold Medal award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association. This achievement makes Florida the only park system in the nation to win a fourth Gold Medal award.
“With over 800,000 acres, including 100 miles of beaches, the Florida Park Service has a proud legacy of leading conservation and recreation in Florida. This legacy is built on the way Florida State Parks connect with people, engage communities and adapt to emerging needs,” said Governor DeSantis. “I am proud of Florida’s efforts to conserve and protect some of the state’s most treasured places.”
“This honor is proven evidence of the tremendous dedication of our employees and volunteers who manage the resources that provide these vast opportunities for Floridians and visitors to enjoy our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “More than 32 million people visit these award-winning state parks each year, and we are proud to continue sharing how special Florida is for all who visit.”
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 were separated into seven categories with five based on population, one for armed forces recreation and one for state park systems.
“We are so proud to be recognized with the National Gold Medal Award,” Florida Park Service Director Eric Draper said. “This award honors the terrific work that our staff, volunteers and partners do to protect natural and cultural resources and open parks every day. We’re also thankful to visitors for supporting and celebrating Florida State Parks.”
“The Florida Recreation and Park Association is thrilled to have yet another parks system in our state recognized for excellence in natural resource management, cultural resources, resilience, creativity, and visitor services,” said Eleanor Warmack, Executive Director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association. “We are beyond excited that the Florida Park Service, as a four-time National Gold Medal recipient, leads the country among state park systems having received this recognition. The award is a testament to the dedicated men and women in the park service, sound leadership, and wise investments by decision-making bodies that ensure Florida’s residents and visitors continue to enjoy our state’s precious natural resources.”