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03.30.12 Howard County Recreation & Parks Recognized for Excellence in Operations

March 30, 2012

Media Contacts: Kevin Enright, Director, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
John R. Byrd, Director, Department of Recreation & Parks, 410-313-4640

Howard County Recreation & Parks Recognized for Excellence in Operations

One of only 102 programs nationwide to receive accreditation

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced today that the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks (HCRP) has just received word of its 10-year accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA’s) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). This is the third time the Department has received the honor. The Department was first accredited in 2001 and again received its five-year reaccreditation in 2006. HCRP is one of only 102 accredited agencies in the United States.

“This is great news and I couldn’t be prouder of our Department of Recreation & Parks. I understand the Accreditation Team was especially impressed with the Department’s outstanding team work and its team approach to fulfilling the mission of Recreation & Parks in Howard County,” said Executive Ulman. “I want to thank John Byrd and his entire staff for all they do to make our Recreation & Parks’ system the envy of the region.”

John Byrd, Director, Department of Recreation and Parks; Laura Wetherald, Chief, Bureau of Recreation and Administrative Services; John Marshall, Chief, Bureau of Parks and Program Services; and Raul Delerme, Chief, Bureau of Capital Projects, Park Planning and Construction, represented the Department and presented their CAPRA certification document on Thursday, March 29 in Washington, D.C. The document includes compliance with 144 standards, including 36 fundamental standards and at least 85% of 108 remaining standards (HCRP met 98% of the 108) related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, services and safety.

“We’re proud to be recognized once again as a standard bearer for the Recreation and Parks’ profession. Our ability to have a positive impact on the quality of life of Howard County residents is reflected by this achievement. I’d like to thank Howard County Executive Ken Ulman for his commitment to quality in Recreation and Parks and for all County services,” John Byrd commented.

The accreditation process touches all levels of an agency, encompasses self-assessments, peer reviews, surveys and more. Byrd and the Recreation and Parks staff involved public officials and citizens; and created comprehensive master plans, policies and procedures that strengthen the Department.

When reflecting on the reaccreditation process, Laura Wetherald commented, “Everyone working for a public recreation and parks agency is constantly explaining what we do, and how it benefits the community.” Wetherald added, “CAPRA accreditation has been the perfect tool to educate those we serve and the agencies with whom we partner about our services and our mission.”

Agency accreditation helps produce a team environment, encourage public support and promote quality services and programs for communities. Since 1989, CAPRA has recognized park and recreation departments in the U.S. for excellence in operations.

“CAPRA has increased public confidence in our entire operation,” said Wetherald. “It has been worth every hour spent on achieving it and now, in maintaining it.” She added, “It is a key point in every employee’s resume that they work for an accredited agency.”

Howard County Recreation and Parks is responsible for the maintenance and operation of 77 parks and historic sites; is responsible for the stewardship of over 9,000 acres of public lands; presented over 5,000 recreation programs that were enjoyed by over 85,000 participants in the past year; and hosted local, regional and national events.

The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) recognizes park and recreation agencies for excellence in operation and service. Charged with providing high quality services and experiences, park and recreation agencies across the United States turn to CAPRA Accreditation as a credible and efficient means of achieving these goals, while providing assurance to the public that the agency meets national standards of best practice. CAPRA accredits departments and agencies that provide park and recreation programs and services. Agency accreditation is available to all entities administering park and recreation systems, including municipalities, townships, counties, special districts and regional authorities, councils of government, schools, and military installations.