In early October, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida State Parks are now the nation’s only three-time winner of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in the management of state park systems.
Governor Scott said, “I am thrilled that the Florida Park Service continues to celebrate Florida. Winning this award for the third time continues to show that the Sunshine State is working hard to ensure Florida families and tourists are able to enjoy our natural treasures, and I want to thank all of our employees and volunteers who helped make this possible.”
The award was presented during the National Recreation and Park Association’s Annual Congress and Exposition in Houston. The Association, in partnership with the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, presents the award to communities that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and administrating a complex system of state parks. Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet recognized the Florida Park Service on Thursday, Oct. 10.
This achievement makes Florida the only system in the nation to win a third Gold Medal award. In fact, no other system has ever won two Gold Medal awards and systems are not allowed to apply for the award within five years of receiving a Gold Medal. Considerations for this award were based on the agency’s ability to address needs of those it serves through collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
“The fact that the Florida Park Service has won this prestigious national award three times, while no other state has ever won twice, shows the dedication of our employees and volunteers to manage the resources that provide vast opportunities for Floridians and visitors to enjoy our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “More than 25 million people visit these award-winning state parks each year, and we are proud to continue to show how special Florida is to all those who visit.”
Since 1935, Florida’s Park Service has provided recreational activities for residents and visitors while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural resources.
During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, state parks experienced a record-breaking number of visitors. During this time period, 25,575,794 people visited state parks. This resulted in a 592,615 increase from the previous year. Increasing access to these state parks has been one of Secretary Vinyard’s top priorities.
“I am honored that Florida State Parks is the winner of our third National Gold Medal,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Our staff members, citizen support organizations, volunteers and concessionaires work hard every day to welcome visitors to enjoy our natural and cultural resources."
For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/awards or www.aapra.org.