May 11, 2021

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Announced as Finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation Management

VBPR to compete for prestigious honor amongst elite group of finalists

Virginia Beach, Va. – Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation (VBPR) has been selected as a finalist for the 2021 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The final phase of judging will take place this summer and winners will be announced during the 2021 NRPA Conference, September 21-23 in Nashville, Tennessee.

VBPR is a finalist in the Class I category for cities with populations of 400,000 plus. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. VBPR joins three other finalists in this class:

Class I Finalists (population 400,001 and over)

  • Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois
  • Cleveland Metro Parks Cleveland, Ohio
  • Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Virginia Beach, Virginia

"Holding ourselves to the highest standards of service excellence is what Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is all about, so to be honored as a finalist with such an elite group is a huge honor," said VBPR Director Michael Kirschman. "Getting to this stage in the judging is a testament to not only the incredible work of our staff, but really a history of commitment by our residents and city leadership to making parks and recreation a priority. They are an investment in the communities' social, mental, and physical health, and our quality of life here in Virginia Beach."

Founded in 1965, the National 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 six classes, with five classes based on population and one class for armed forces.

AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams shared, "Each Finalist is congratulated for this prestigious award. We know local communities, state park systems, and military installations worldwide met the challenge of being responsive to the changing demands of delivering services during the COVID 19 pandemic. Park visitors and program participants have come to rely upon their service provider for physical, mental, and emotional support during this pandemic. The Academy congratulates each Finalist for their management excellence during this unprecedented time."

For more information on the National Gold Medal Award Program, visit

Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation strives to promote healthy lifestyles and protect the City's coastal environment, as well as to ensure all residents – regardless of their physical, social and economic circumstances – can access Parks & Recreation programs. The department's vision is to be the national leader in providing enriching and memorable lifelong experiences. Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association. For more information, visit or call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: 757-711 Virginia Relay). Sign up for Parks & Rec email newsletters at Find us on Facebook at

The American Academy for Park and Recreation
The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a nonprofit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit

The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


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