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JCPRD brings home multiple state honors and awards
POSTED: 05/01/2012
During the Kansas Recreation and Park Association’s 2012 annual meeting, conducted earlier this year in Topeka, the Johnson County Park & Recreation District picked up several awards and honors.

The Olde Fashioned Holiday Supper Club program, which was initiated in 2011, was recognized with the KRPA’s Outstanding New or Innovative Recreation Program Award. The district also received the BlueChip Award, which recognizes Kansas communities which promote healthy lifestyles. JCPRD Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Meadors received the Distinguished Fellow Award and Superintendent of Recreation Jill Geller received Park and Recreation Executive certification. In addition, the district successfully nominated Kansas City WildLands for the KRPA’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

The Olde Fashioned Holiday Supper Club had the goal of providing enjoyable entertainment experiences for all ages. The program, which involved a four-member cast which sang holiday songs while attendees enjoyed a plated meal, involved performances on Dec. 9 and 10 at Mildale Farm in southwestern Johnson County.

Olde Fashioned Holiday was a joint effort of the JCPRD Wellness Department, which manages operations at Mildale Farm, and The Theatre in the Park. The event also involved assistance from the Children’s Services Department, which facilitated craft activities during Breakfast with Santa performances, the 50 Plus Department, which offered a day trip to a matinee performance, Park Police, from which one staff member served as Santa, and the Parks Department, which assisted in decorating and preparing the facility for the event.

Those who attended the four performances of the program responded overwhelmingly positively and organizers anticipate the program will continue to grow.

“Everyone in attendance raved about the experience and the quality of the production,” said Tim Bair, The Theatre in the Parks Producing Artistic Director.

The BlueCHIP Award was presented by representatives of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. The specific district programs and initiatives that were recognized for promoting healthy lifestyles included: the JCPRD-administrated Kansas City Corporate Challenge, four triathlons and one duathlon hosted by the district each year, before- and after-school programs which provide care to nearly 2,000 children each week, 50 Plus programs which provide a wide variety of activities for thousands of seniors, the Streamway Trails which provide a safe and serene environment for walkers, runners, and cyclists, and the healthy menu choices offered at district concessions operations.

In presenting him with the Distinguished Fellow Award, the KRPA recognized Director Meadors for his 32 years in the field of parks and recreation including 26 years with JCPRD. Among his many accomplishments was the acquisition or construction of number of recreation facilities including the Mid-America and Mid-America West Sports complexes, the Roeland Park Aquatic Center, Heritage Park Soccer Complex, the Roeland Park Sports Dome, the TimberRidge Adventure Center and the New Century Fieldhouse. He has also provided leadership and support in the acquisition of more than 4,000 acres of new park land.

Meadors’ contributions to the profession at the regional and national levels are too numerous to list, but have included serving as KRPA Recreation Branch Chair, President, and many other roles in the organization. He is also a past Board of Trustee member for the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has served on the NRPA Midwest Board of Directors, as well as on many boards and councils. He is very active in the Kansas City Metro Area Directors group and a past recipient of the Midwest Region’s Distinguished Fellow and KRPA’s Distinguished Professional awards.

“In good times and tough times, his commitment to providing the best parks, facilities, programs and services to our community has never wavered,” his nominators wrote. “He is a respected contributor to our profession, and his efforts make Johnson County a better place to live.”

To achieve her Park and Recreation Executive certification, Superintendent Geller earned Certified Park and Recreation Professional certification, met specific requirements for education and experience, and successfully passed an exam covering a comprehensive set of topics including communication, finance, human resources, operations, and planning.

Granted by the National Certification Board in conjunction with the National Recreation and Park Association, the executive certification recognizes advanced skills and competencies related to the professional practice and delivery of park and recreation programs and services.

Geller is the first in the state of Kansas, and among the first ever, to earn this new certification.

In nominating KC WildLands for the public service award, JCPRD staff noted the two organizations have been partnering on natural resource management efforts for a decade now. The local organization, which is comprised of public land management organizations, natural resource-missioned not-for-profits, and for-profit businesses and corporations, was formed to conserve, protect, and restore natural communities of the Kansas City metropolitan area through volunteer efforts.

Among sites which have benefitted over the past ten years are three remnant prairies on JCPRD properties. These include the Ernie Miller Park Prairie, the Kill Creek Park Prairie, and the Ogg Road Prairie in Shawnee Mission Park. All three have been beneficiaries of annual workdays since 2001 during which volunteers remove invasive woody growth, prepare fire breaks for controlled burns, collect seed, and plant towards prairie restoration efforts. The sites now bring visitors to enjoy the beauty of wildflowers and seasonal butterfly migrations.

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