Ohio Parks and Recreation Association announces awards

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Mill Stream Run Reservation
Mill Stream Run Reservation is a part of the Cleveland Metroparks. (Julie Geiss photo)

SANDUSKY, Ohio — The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association announced the winners of its 2023 Annual Awards of Excellence. In all, 12 agencies won first-place awards and 26 different agencies were honored.

The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on Feb. 6 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio. The awards are judged by a panel of 40 parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.

One first-place award winner will be presented with the 2023 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation, a “best-in-show” award that includes a $500 contribution to the parks and recreation foundation of the winner.

The association also announced the winners of the 2023 Outstanding Leadership Awards. Parks and recreation professionals and citizens were nominated by parks and recreation professionals from around the state for these awards.

David Williams, the retired founder and owner of David Williams & Associates will receive the association’s highest honor, as the newest inductee into the OPRA Hall of Fame. Retired Centerville-Washington Park District and Clark County Park District Executive Director Carol Kennard is the winner of the 2023 Harvey Woods Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill Tschirhart, the Chief of Administration for Five Rivers MetroParks, is the 2023 Professional of the Year.

Jo Ferguson, of the City of Beavercreek, is the 2023 OPRA Citizen of the Year. Ferguson, 97, has spent more than 30 years volunteering with the Senior Center. Kelly Shaw, of the City of Worthington, is the 2023 winner of the Outstanding Youth Leadership Award. Kelly, 12, is a passionate mountain biker who proposed the creation of a mountain biking trail system within the city’s Olentangy Parklands as the culmination of his 7th-grade Discovery Days project at Phoenix Middle School. Dan Bogan of the City of Kettering is the 2023 Youth Sports Coach of the Year.

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