Tennessee State Parks has been named one of only two state park systems in the country to receive accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The announcement was made official at the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual conference in Indianapolis this week.
“Achieving this independent accreditation means Tennessee State Parks meets national standards of best practice,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“It also acknowledges that visitors can expect the best in terms of recreation, programming and amenities when they visit any one of our 56 state parks.”
CAPRA accreditation assures park visitors, policy makers, department staff and taxpayers that a parks system has the operational capacity to deliver high-quality programs, services and facilities. There are just over 160 accredited park and recreation agencies in the United States. Only one other parks system in Tennessee has received accreditation – the City of Germantown in Shelby County.
“To receive this accreditation is truly an honor,” said Anne Marshall, senior advisor to Deputy Commissioner Hill. “It reflects the commitment and dedication of our parks’ staff and the benefits available to visitors. We hope this accomplishment will set the bar for other state parks systems and encourage them to seek accreditation as well.”
Scoring is based on the adoption of efficient and effective processes, such as having an environmental sustainability policy that includes protections for natural resources; soliciting employee and visitor feedback on park management plans; proper utilization of volunteers; and the availability of high-quality programming to all visitors, including historically underserved populations.
The accreditation process includes self-evaluation, a peer review and a site visit. The CAPRA standards were developed by a special committee initiated in 1989 by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association.