Morton Grove Park District has been recognized for the second time as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). The District previously received Distinguished Accredited Agency status in 2016.

The two statewide associations administer the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program to improve park and recreation services delivery to Illinois residents. “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 result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.” 

“This program gives recognition to 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,” said Barry Franks, IPRA Interim Executive Director.

A park district or recreation agency interested in applying for Distinguished Accredited Agency recognition undergoes a detailed, lengthy application and evaluation process. A Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) comprised of members from IAPD and IPRA coordinates the process. “Agencies submit a self-evaluation and a formal letter requesting admission into the process,” said Jeff Rigoni, IAPD Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. “If the committee determines the agency is eligible to continue the process, we send them an evaluation date.” 

According to Rigoni, the agency presents documented information and tours pertinent facilities and parks for the evaluation team’s review on the day of the evaluation.

The 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.

Upon completion of the evaluation, the agency is notified in writing of the official results within ten days. Agencies that have achieved Distinguished Accredited status are recognized during the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January.

“There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves Distinguished Accredited status,” said Bill McAdam, 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 have confidence that their park district or recreation agency employs qualified professionals and has met professional standards.”

Morton Grove Park District applied for the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program on March 17, 2021.

Jeff Wait, Executive Director, said he saw great teamwork and determination involved in preparing for this accreditation. This was not an easy task, and it was hundreds of hours of collecting, reviewing, and in some cases, developing the required information for the review team. The Morton Grove Park District is one of only 50 park districts, forest preserves and special recreation associations currently accredited.

The JDPRAC approved the Morton Grove Park District for Distinguished Accredited status in October 2021.

In compliance with the program, the Morton Grove Park District will be re-evaluated in six years to verify that they have continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing community quality park and recreation services.

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.

Established in 1944, IPRA’s mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation and conservation communities.