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Howard County Recreation & Parks recognized for excellence in operations

Howard County Recreation & Parks recognized for excellence in operations

October 10, 2017

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

One of only 167 programs nationwide to receive accreditation

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman announced today that the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP) was officially granted re-accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA’s) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). First accredited in 2001, this is the fourth time HCRP has received the honor. HCRP is one of only 167 accredited agencies in the United States.

“For the first time, our Department of Recreation & Parks had 100% compliance, fulfilling all 151 standards. This is quite an accomplishment,” said Kittleman. “I want to thank John Byrd, and his entire staff for continuously improving an already impressive department. The Accreditation Team was especially impressed with our Department of Recreation & Parks’ succession plan for the accreditation process; complete agency buy-in; high-level customer service; and quality, breadth and depth of agency program diversity.”    

John Byrd, Department of Recreation & Parks Director; Laura Wetherald, Bureau Chief of Recreation; John Marshall, Bureau Chief of Parks; and Raul Delerme, Bureau Chief of Capital Projects, Park Planning and Construction, represented HCRP and were presented the department’s CAPRA certification document on September 27 at NRPA’s annual conference. The document includes compliance with the 151 standards related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, services and safety.

“We’re proud to be recognized once again. What was impressive this time around was receiving 100% compliance. This department continues to be a model for others in the Recreation and Parks’ profession and this recognition confirms why. 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 Kittleman for his commitment to the department,” Byrd commented.

The accreditation process touches all levels of an agency, encompasses self-assessments, peer reviews, surveys and more. As part of the accreditation process, HCRP involved public officials and residents, and created comprehensive master plans, policies and procedures that would strengthen the Department. 

When reflecting on the reaccreditation process, Laura Wetherald commented, “We are constantly explaining what we do, and how it benefits the community. The CAPRA accreditation packet provides a perfect tool to educate those we serve and the agencies with whom we partner with about our services, goals, measurements, mission and more.”

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.

Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks is responsible for the maintenance and operation of 95 parks and historic sites; is responsible for the stewardship of more than 9,390 acres of recreation & park lands; offered more than 10,000 recreation programs that were enjoyed by more than 100,000 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.