The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce the Maryland Park Service as a finalist for the 2019 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. 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 for state park systems awarded on odd numbered years.

The Maryland Park Service is a finalist in the State Parks category. Maryland’s State Park system, one of the oldest in the nation, encompasses 75 parks, protecting 140,000 acres of the state’s most significant natural, cultural, and historical resources for the enjoyment of more than 14 million visitors annually.

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. The Maryland Park Service joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for grand honors this year.

“We are thrilled to be in the running for the Gold Medal,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina. “To be considered one of the best state park agencies in the country is a great honor. We hope this recognition encourages even more people to connect with the beauty and serenity Maryland State Parks offer.”

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 on both the local and national levels.

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the seven Grand Plaque recipients will be announced live during the NRPA General Session at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 24–26, 2019.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit or