Texas State Parks Recognized Among the Nation’s Best

AUSTIN — The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) along with the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration have selected Texas State Parks as a finalist for the 2023 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

“I’m proud to have the hard work of our Texas State Park staff recognized for building one of the best state park systems in the country,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “It is an honor for Texas State Parks to be nationally recognized for our efforts to welcome all Texans and preserve the gems of Texas for all generations.”

Texas State Parks is competing against three other state park systems for the top award: Missouri State Parks, Ohio State Parks and Watercraft; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails. The winner will be announced in October at the NRPA conference in Dallas.

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. For more information concerning the Gold Medal Award program, visit https://aapra.org/National-Gold-Medal-Award.

“We are especially thrilled to receive this recognition during our Centennial year,” Franklin said. “The fact that we were named a finalist among peer institutions across the country really highlights the progress we have made over the past century to fulfill then-Gov. Pat Neff’s vision of a Texas dotted with state parks ‘to be held in sacred trust by the State for the public good, now and forever.’”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is partnering with TPWD and H-E-B to celebrate 100 years of Texas State Parks. H-E-B, the presenting sponsor of the celebration, has donated $1 million to help Texas State Parks engage all Texans in discovering and enjoying their state parks throughout the yearlong celebration.

For more information on the Centennial Celebration, including community events, the history of Texas State Parks and how to make a day visit or overnight reservation, visit the Texas State Parks 100 Years website at TexasStateParks.org/100years.