The Oswegoland Park District has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. The goal of distinguished accreditation is to improve park and recreation services in the state of Illinois. The program provides an opportunity for agencies across the state to go through a comprehensive evaluation process in an effort to show how they are meeting state guidelines and providing exceptional services within their community.
The two statewide associations administer the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program with the goal of improving the delivery of park and recreation services to Illinois residents. “Illinois has a reputation for the best park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in the nation,” said Peter Murphy, IAPD President and CEO. “The Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program provides an opportunity for these agencies to undergo a voluntary, comprehensive evaluation process to demonstrate that they have met state guidelines to provide exceptional park and recreation services to their community. The end result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.”
“This program gives recognition to park and recreation agencies that go above and beyond in dedicating themselves to offering quality programs and services designed to fulfill their community’s needs,” said Debbie Trueblood, IPRA Executive Director.
A park district or recreation agency interested in applying for Distinguished Accredited Agency recognition undergoes a detailed, lengthy process of application and evaluation. A Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) comprised of members from IAPD and IPRA coordinates the process. “Agencies submit a self-evaluation and a formal letter requesting admission into the process,” said David Johnson, IAPD Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “If the committee determines the agency is eligible to continue the process, we send them an evaluation date.”
According to Johnson, on the day of the evaluation, the agency presents documented information and gives a tour of pertinent facilities and parks for the evaluation team’s review. The team reviews general management procedures, finance and business operations, facilities and parks, personnel, recreation services, legal documentation and other materials including mission statements, goals and safety manuals.
“There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves ‘Distinguished Accredited’ status,” said Dan Jones, IPRA co-chair of the JDPRAC. “The agency’s application and review process is an excellent self-evaluation, and agencies that apply realize increased operational efficiency and effectiveness. Communities can rest assured knowing that their park district or recreation agency employs qualified professionals and has met professional standards.”
The Oswegoland Park District applied for the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program in February of 2016. “I am very proud to have the Oswegoland Park District recognized as a leader in the Parks and Recreation field, meeting the highest standards of our profession. This program afforded us with the opportunity to perform an internal review to ensure that we are providing our community with exceptional parks, programs and facilities,” said Rich Zielke, Oswegoland Park District Executive Director.
The JDPRAC approved the Oswegoland Park District for Distinguished Accredited status on November 20, 2017. The Committee highlighted the following: strong working relationships within the community through various intergovernmental agreements and cooperative partnerships; proactively seeking public feedback; annual budget presented in accordance with GFOA guidelines, a very comprehensive and professional product.
In compliance with the program, the Oswegoland Park District will be reevaluated in six years to verify that it has continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing quality park and recreation services to the community.
IAPD is a nonprofit service, research and education organization that serves park districts, forest preserves, conservation and recreation agencies. The association advances these agencies, their citizen board members and professional staff in their ability to provide outstanding park and recreation opportunities, preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.
IPRA is a nonprofit organization and public interest group that is an advocate in providing quality park, recreation and conservation education, resources and services to professionals and citizens throughout the state of Illinois.