Awards & Recognition

You are invited to submit a nomination for the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association’s 2023 Award Program. The deadline for submitting WPRA award nominations is October 1st, 2023. 


For the Partnership Award, Fellowship Award, and the Elected Official Award, please submit information pertaining to why the individual/organization/etc. should be considered for the award. There is no nomination form. Submit your nomination(s) to [email protected]. Once a nomination is submitted, a request will be made for additional information needed. 

* Please note: For the Elected Official Award, Partnership Award and Fellowship Award, the person submitting the nomination must turn in support material on their nominee.

View the 2021 WPRA Award Winners

Professional Award of Merit

This is the highest professional award given by WPRA to a current or retired active Association member. The nominee MUST hold current professional certification by the National Recreation and Park Association as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) or comparable certifications that will be considered by the Awards Committee in lieu of the CPRP requirement. Nominees must have at least fifteen (15) years of continuous active membership in WPRA and the Park and Recreation industry as a whole. Nominees are judged on specific accomplishments and service performed for the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association and the leisure services profession. Recipients of the Professional Award of Merit are not eligible for the George Wilson Service Award.

Catergories used in choosing the Professional Award of Merit Recipient::

  • WPRA Involvement - Board of Directors, Section Board, Committee Involvement
  • Job Performance and Professional Accomplishments
  • Professional Awards/Recognition

George Wilson Service Award

Dr. George T. Wilson was the Assistant Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), overseeing the Division of Municipal Recreation and Adult Education from 1967-1976. He served MPS in various roles for a total of 40 years.  Dr. George was a true servant to the Wisconsin Parks & Recreation Association and was one of its founding members.  He served in many roles within the Association, and was a true pioneer in the parks and recreation field.  Dr. George was instrumental in the development and implementation of Therapeutic Recreation services in Milwaukee, and believed in the importance of providing equal access to parks and recreation services to all, regardless of ability. This was all decades before the American With Disabilities Act was established in 1990. Dr. George served as President of the Wisconsin Recreation Association (1948) and the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association (1971).  He was the recipient of the WPRA Professional Award of Merit (1976), the Honorary Fellowship Award (1988) and the George T. Wilson Service Award (1997), which was named in his honor.

This award is presented to current or retired WPRA members who have distinguished themselves through persistent accomplishment and continuous service to the State Association. The nominee MUST hold current professional certification by the National Recreation and Park Association as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) or held this certification immediately preceding their retirement. Comparable certifications will be considered by the Awards Committee in lieu of the CPRP requirement. Nominees must have at least ten (10) years of continuous active membership in WPRA and Park and Recreation industry as a whole. Recipients of the George Wilson Service Award are not eligible for the Professional Award of Merit.

Guidelines for selecting The George Wilson Service Award: 

  • WPRA Involvement – Board of Directors, Section Board, Committee involvement, etc
  • WPRA Student Advisor
  • WPRA Special Events & Activities
  • Contributor to IMPACT, PRMonthly, other WPRA writings
  • Other Professional Contributions and Accomplishments which highlight WPRA service, or identify the nominee as a WPRA member

Partnership Award

This is the highest award bestowed by the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association to  a private or non-profit agency or organization in recognition of their outstanding contribution to Parks and Recreation in Wisconsin. The project/achievement should demonstrate cooperative efforts with other organizations in meeting their intended goals. The impact of their contribution should be of major significance to the local community or go beyond the local community.

When submitting a nomination, please include any supporting materials for the nomination.


Fellowship Awards

This is the highest award bestowed by the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association  to recognize individuals that are not members of WPRA and who have made outstanding achievements or contributions to the parks and recreation movement. The impact of their contribution should be of major significance to the local community or go beyond the local community.

When submitting a nomination, please include any supporting materials for the nomination.


Elected Official Award

This is the highest award bestowed by the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association  to recognize elected officials who have demonstrated significant contributions and support to our communities.This award recognizes the Elected Official’s leadership in supporting the development of community projects, programs, special events and budget initiatives.

When submitting a nomination, please include the nominee’s position, background, issues addressed or projects pursued, and the impact made on the community.


Lifetime Achievement Award

This award is presented to retired employees who have been a member of WPRA for a minimum of 10 years immediately prior to their retirement. Please inform us as soon as you make that big decision so that we can give proper recognition for your years of dedicated service to your job, profession, and Association.


Service Recognition Award

These awards are presented to WPRA members at 10 and 25 years of service in the profession. To receive the 10 Year Service Award, an individual must have been a WPRA member for a minimum of five consecutive years prior to being eligible. To receive the 25 Year Service Award, an individual must have been a WPRA member for a minimum of 10 consecutive years prior to being eligible. These award categories are not retroactive. Award recipients will be listed in the PRMonthly. If you have any questions, call the WPRA Office.


Aquatic Section Awards

  • Aquatic Section Outstanding Professional of the Year: 

    The Outstanding Aquatic Professional of the year will be presented to a WPRA Aquatic Section member who is currently working as either a full-time or permanent part-time professional in the field, with more than seven years of service.

  • Outstanding Facility Design/Renovation: The Outstanding Aquatic Facility Design/Renovation Award will be presented to a current WPRA member agency or an individual WPRA member registered with the Aquatic Section. Commercial members are encouraged to submit an entry for a project they helped design. Awards will be given to the agencies listed on the official entry form when submitted. Award winners will be presented their award at the annual Aquatic Section meeting held during the WPRA Annual Conference.

  • Aquatics & Recreation Silver Star Awards: The WPRA Silver Star Award is recognition given to outstanding programs, events, or marketing efforts in the areas of recreation or aquatics. WPRA members are encouraged to nominate programs and marketing efforts in order to be recognized for the incredible work being done and also to inspire other departments. Category winners will present at the annual WPRA conference during the Silver Star Session, and all top three finishers in each category will be included in the conference session handout. 
    Silver Star Awards:
    • Youth Programming
    • Adult/Older Adult Programming
    • Creative Service Delivery/Marketing
    • Special Events

Click here for more Aquatic Award information
Submit a nomination for the Aquatics Section Professional of the Year Award
Submit a nomination for the Aquatics Facility Design Award
Submit a nomination for the Silver Star Awards


Park Section Awards

  • Park Section Outstanding Professional of the Year: The Parks Section Outstanding Professional of the Year will be presented to a WPRA Park Section member who is currently working as either a full-time or permanent part-time professional in the field, with more than ten years of service.

  • Park Design:
    • Under $250,000
    • $250,000 - $499,999
    • $500,000 - $999,999
    • $1,000,000 - $3,000,000 
    • Over $3,000,000
Park Design Award entries are based on the following: 
  • Innovation - provides a new approach to problem solving, exhibits new technology.
  • Functionalism - responds to users needs, accessibility for all populations.
  • Aesthetics - proper scale is achieved for site, relationship to surroundings, considers the overall site development.
  • Community Benefits - responds to identified needs of public, public input on project, improves image of community. 
  • Environmental Stewardship - use of recycled materials, mechanics which are environmentally compatible (solar, low volume flush, high pressure sodium bulbs), use of native plant materials.
  • Maintenance - considers ease of maintaining, durability of materials, minimize need for special equipment or special tasks, safety of maintaining site.

Click here for more Park Award information
Submit a nomination for the Park Section Professional of the Year Award
Submit a nomination for the Park Design Awards


Recreation Section Awards

  • Recreation Section Outstanding Professional of the Year: The WPRA Recreation Section Professional of the Year award is presented to a WPRA Recreation Section member who is currently working as either a full-time or permanent part-time professional in the field, with more than seven years of service.

  • Aquatics & Recreation Silver Star Awards: 
    • The WPRA Silver Star Award is recognition given to outstanding programs, events, or marketing efforts in the areas of recreation or aquatics. WPRA members are encouraged to nominate programs and marketing efforts in order to be recognized for the incredible work being done and also to inspire other departments. Category winners will present at the annual WPRA conference during the Silver Star Session, and all top three finishers in each category will be included in the conference session handout. Silver Star Awards:
      • Youth Programming
      • Adult/Older Adult Programming
      • Creative Service Delivery/Marketing
      • Special Events

Click here for more Recreation Award information
Submit a nomination for the Recreation Section Professional of the Year Award
Submit a nomination for the Silver Star Awards


Young Professional Section Awards

  • Young Professional Section Outstanding Professional of the Year: One single award will be presented to a WPRA member who is currently working as either a full-time or permanent part-time professional in the field, with ten or less years of service. (May be in Aquatic, Park, or Recreation Section.)

Click here for more Young Professional Award information
Submit a nomination for the Young Professional of the Year Award


 view all Past Award Recipients 

Questions? Contact the WPRA Office at 414-423-1210 or [email protected].