District earns state Distinguished Accredited Agency award

February 1, 2016 03:36 AM
Board President Mike Reid (second from left). Executive Director John Ohrlund (second from right).

After months of work and a successful final evaluation by a joint committee of the state’s two park and recreation professional associations, the Skokie Park District has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).

The accreditation was presented by the two organizations “in recognition of 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” at the annual IAPD/IPRA conference in Chicago, on Friday, January 29.

“Our staff put forth an tremendous effort organizing the district for this review,” said the Skokie Park District’s executive director John Ohrlund. “They can all be proud that they have contributed to meeting our vision, mission and values — that of continuing to raise the quality of life for the residents of Skokie.”

Of the more than 400 park districts in Illinois, only 61 have achieved “distinguished accredited agency” status since the program began in 1993. The district has now been named for a fourth time, its current accreditation running from 2016-20.


The distinguished accredited agency certification process involves a self-evaluation and a formal letter requesting admission into the process. After acceptance, 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 joint 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.

“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.”

“There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves Distinguished Accredited status,” said Rita Fletcher, 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.”

IAPD is a non-profit 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 not-for-profit organization and public interest group who is an advocate in providing quality park, recreation and conservation education, resources and services to professionals and citizens throughout the state of Illinois.

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