Association Awards

Nominate someone today for a 2023 Award!

Click here to review the award criteria

Click here to view past award recipients

Questions? Contact Awards Committee Chair Lisa Thompson at

2022 Award Winners!

2022 “William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional
of the Year Award Winner
Jen DeRice, Director, Standish Parks & Recreation Department

Jen began her career in Parks and Recreation like many of us did, as a summer camp counselor at Yarmouth Community Services.  She graduated from USM and what started out as a summer job evolved into a full-time position as a Recreation Programmer, working under the guidance of the late Russell Packett and lo and behold, a Parks and Recreation Professional was born. In addition to this role, Jen has worked as a Field Hockey and Lacrosse official and continues to be a strong advocate for youth sports and women in sports to this day.

During Jen’s career in this profession, she has learned and worked with many of us- from Yarmouth she went to South Portland, working under the guidance of Deb Smith and becoming part of a bigger team, her programming skills were her strength with offering senior programs and trips, special events and summer camps.  From South Portland she ventured onto Old Orchard Beach and Cape Elizabeth, coming full circle to work for Russell Packett once again, building her skills in programming and positive leadership.

In 2015 she became the Director of Standish Parks and Recreation, where she has been able to bring the department to a new level of service, providing families with expanded out of school time programming, building strong relationships within the community and leading projects such as the development of the Rich Memorial Beach and Standish Memorial Park.

Jen’s   contributions to MRPA since 2003 have been vast, which include having a seat on the MRPA Board of Directors as President, Vice President, At-Large & SMART Representative,   Awards Committee Chair, Entertainment Showcase Committee Chair, Fall Workshop Committee, Spring Conference Committee and   MRPA Conference Presenter.

“William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional of the Year Award

William V. Haskell served the MRPA from its inception and was director of the Presque Isle Parks and Recreation Department from 1946-1981.

  • Employment History/Experience:  The nominee should have a minimum of ten years working within the Recreation Field and at least a three-year period should have been within the state of Maine.
  • Education and Certification:  The candidate should have a degree in Recreation, or a related field.  Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have earned higher degrees and/or who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
  • Professional Affiliation:  Candidates must maintain membership in the MRPA.  Any additional affiliations, such as NRPA, will hold value.
  • Leadership Contribution:  Candidates should display qualities of leadership in MRPA and/or NRPA by serving on the Executive Board or by making other professional contributions such as a committee chairperson or committee member.
  • Administrative & Program Development:  Candidate should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level, through innovative programming, facility development and civic involvement
  • Learn More about William Haskell

Recent Winners
2021 – Robin Cogger (York Parks & Recreation), 2020 – Hillary Hallett (Eastern Recreation), 2019 – Lisa Thompson (Wescustogo Hall & Community Center), 2018 – Karyn MacNeill (Yarmouth), 2017- Debbie Gendreau (Bangor), 2016 – Denise LeBlanc (Skowhegan), 2015 – Linda Brooks (Standish), Tina LeBlanc (Wells), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Steve Balboni (Bath), Marcel Blouin (Sanford), Tracy Willette (Bangor), Deb Smith (South Portland), Michael Martin (Brewer), Doug Beck (Auburn), Eric Seekins (Oakland), Marie Carmichael (Houlton), Don Brewer (Portland), Cindy Hazelton (Gorham), Mike Boies (Woodland), Pam LeDuc (Topsham), Dr. Bill Eckart (UMaine Machias), Norm Poirer (Orono), Ken Hanscom (Brewer), Jim Toner (Waterville), Marcia Noyes (Yarmouth)


2022 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award Winner
Brady Llyod, Sanford Parks and Recreation Department

Brady Lloyd began working with the Town of Standish Parks & Recreation Department in 2017 as a Recreation Coordinator. In 2019 he was elevated to Assistant Director. Brady coordinated youth recreation programs including all enrichment classes, youth sports, summer camps, and the before/after school program. He also assists with all aspects of the department wherever needed. Since coming to Standish, Brady has worked to improve himself professionally by joining the MRPA spring conference committee, fall workshop committee, coordinating the vendors for the exhibit hall for 2 years, and becoming certified as a playground inspector and as a youth sports administrator. Brady is now in his new position as the Director of Parks and Recreation in Sanford.

“Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award

Dr. William Eckart retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected programs in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. Dr. Eckart was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.

  • Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have minimum of three years working within the Recreation Field and at least a two-year period should have been within the state of Maine, with no more than ten years experience.
  • Education: The candidate should have a degree in the field of Recreation, or a related field.  Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
  • Professional Affiliation:  Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA.  Any additional affiliations will hold value.
  • Program Development:  Candidates should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level through innovative programming, partnerships and civic involvement.
  • Professional Involvement:  Candidates should exhibit networking skills, and be involved with local and regional recreational issues and committees within MRPA.

Recent Winners
2021 – Amelia Meier (Saco Parks & Recreation), 2020 – Gary Collello (Bridgton Recreation), 2019 – Erica Dube (Saco Parks & Recreation), 2018 – Tyler Stewart (Old Orchard Beach), 2017 – Jason Hanken (Lewiston). 2016 – Nicole Welch (Old Orchard Beach), 2015 – Julio Santiago (Gorham) Sabrina Best (South Portland), Anthony Johnson (Freeport), Kate Harris (Falmouth), Angela O’Connor (Kennebunkport), Tammy Leger (Kennebunk), Alan Grady (Gorham), Shelly Abbott (Hampden), Jen DeRice (So. Portland), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Lisa Thompson (So Portland)


2022 Facilities of Merit Award Winners

Cornelia Warren Four Season Rink, Westbrook


This is a 4-season rink that opened in Westbrook in June 2020. The rink on Lincoln Street was built of wood and concrete in 1994 for $30,000. The new rink has been built with Sport Court, a rubberized material that is safer than asphalt, but still good for soccer, basketball and pickleball. A protective sheet covers the surface so it can flooded and frozen for skating. New sideboards were installed and safety netting surrounds most of the rink.


Riverwoods Preserve, Yarmouth

Riverfront Woods Preserve is a 50-acre nature preserve with walking trails to the Royal River, a beaver meadow, and vernal pools with breeding populations of wood frogs and spotted salamanders. The property currently has a single-track walking loop trail with relatively unimproved surfacing, a viewing platform with interpretive signs at an open beaver meadow, approximately 500 feet of bridges and boardwalks, and a hardened gravel Universally Accessible out and back trail to views of an abandoned beaver bog.

The effort started with a 2017 collaboration between the Town, Royal River Conservation Trust, volunteers, and the Land for Maine’s Future Program to raise the funds needed to purchase and protect the property through conservation easements. Trail development on the property began in 2019 with Town funds and donations from individuals, the local and district Rotary Clubs, and Royal River Conservation Trust. Trails were built almost entirely by volunteers and non-profit groups lead by Yarmouth Community Services staff. Boardwalk and bridge designs were modified from the innovative work done by a large group of volunteers on the volunteer run West Side Trail Project. Future planned development includes an extension of the current hardened Universally Accessible trail to provide users with mobility devices access to views of the Royal River.


Scarborough HUB, Scarborough

Tour of Scarborough HUB

When the pandemic hit and brought forth stay-at-home orders, Scarborough Community Services’ programming took a major hit, with most in-person programs ending abruptly. This included two of our largest programs, the before-school and after-school care programs and summer day camp programs. Everyone knew that Scarborough could not go another year without these programs that are essential to all the working families in town.

When looking ahead to school year 2020-21 and learning that school would be operating under a hybrid model, staff had to rethink how childcare programs would function. In following the same hybrid model, the best option was to provide Hybrid Care, welcoming students Grades K-6 into a safe space to complete their schoolwork but also socialize with same-aged peers and participate in daily physical activities. The groups were split into two separate groups – a Monday/Tuesday cohort and a Thursday/Friday cohort – with Wednesdays as an add-on option for both cohorts. Groups were further split up into school-specific pods. These areas ensured that kids going to the same school stayed together for all learning, mealtimes, and play times.

The biggest hurdle in this program reshaping process was that Scarborough Community Services never had its own dedicated programming space. This forced staff to think creatively and swiftly in order to secure space before the next school year began. In a span of four weeks, the Town Council approved the $300,000 lease expense outside of the budget cycle, the Director negotiated the lease terms and secured the agreement, then staff moved into the space and worked within the existing building footprint to build out distinct spaces for students as well as office space for staff. The vast majority of the furniture and supplies needed to get the building up and running (90%) were recycled from the School Department’s storage facility. Pods were created with retractable wall dividers to make the space work for students while also allowing staff to adjust spacing for future programming needs. Aside from the hiring of a part-time custodian, no additional hires were required to run the program and new building space. Community Services also received the backing of up to $90,000 from a local business to help offset operational expenses for the year. This program went on to serve 103 students during the 2020-21 school year.

The facility has now given staff the availability to introduce more programming than ever before. During the 2020-year, staff organized a twice-monthly drive-through location for senior pick-up meals. This transitioned back to in-person meals once a week in the Fall of 2021. Once the Hybrid Care program wrapped up, the building became the home base for Grades 6-7 summer camp and a twice-weekly drop-in center for senior citizens in the Summer of 2021. And now that school is back to a normal schedule this year, the building has been scheduled steadily with a new preschool program, daily senior offerings, youth enrichment programs (afterschool and weekend), programs aimed for children under 5 and homeschool students, adult fitness classes, expanding our services to groups we have never reached before. Now that programmers have a space they can consistently program in, the future holds no bounds!

Facilities of Merit Award

  • A significant recreation facility established within the last two years
  • Shows the project overview, design, plan, and priority of need
  • Demonstrates an increase in recreational opportunities – including types of uses
  • Local commitment to the project
  • Accessibility to users
  • Demonstrates innovation and creativity

Recent Winners
2021 – Auburn Senior Center (Auburn), 2020 – The Bangor Municipal Golf Course (Bangor), The Wescustogo Community Center (North Yarmouth), Kennebunkport Parks & Recreation Community Center (Kennebunkport), 2019- Bath Pump Track (Bath) & Bangor Pickleball Courts (Bangor), 2018 – Zorach Fountain (Bath) & John H Rich Jr. & Doris Rich Memorial Beach (Standish), 2017 – Sargent Family Community Center (Presque Isle), 2017 – Bog Road Athletic Complex (York), 2017 – Broad Cove Reserve (Cumberland), Donnabeth Lippman Park (Windham), Mason-Motz Center (Falmouth), “Just for Kids” Community Playgrouond (Houlton), The Waterhouse Center (Kennebunk), Westbrook Community Center (Westbrook), Wainwright Rec. Complex (South Portland), Johnson Field (Standish), Bangor Waterfront (Bangor), Yarmouth Westside Trail (Yarmouth), Bangor Armory (Bangor),The Ballpark (Old Orchard Beach), Saco Community Center (Saco), Gorham Municipal Center (Gorham)


2022 Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award Winner
Art Dillion, Scarborough Community Services

Art Dillon has made many contributions to the community of Scarborough. From donating candy for special events, to grabbing a camera and filming a High School softball game for our cable program, Art is always willing to jump in and assist in any way he can. He helps to guide our department as the current chair for the Community Services and Recreation Advisory Board and as a member of the Cable Television Committee. He is also active on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors where he has coordinated the free summer concert series held in Memorial Park for the last 17 years. Additionally, Art has served on numerous other ad-hoc committees and boards over the last 20 years and is always willing to use his voice to advocate for recreational programming and access to safe and beautiful parks. Art’s dedication to our community is unmatched and we are fortunate to have his support.

Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award

  • Contributes to the well-being of recreation within the State of Maine
  • A community volunteer who supports the development and creation of recreation programs, facilities or services
  • Is not a paid employee of a department
  • Length of involvement at the local, multi-town, or state level
  • Diversity of involvement, contributions, and achievements
  • Letters of support from the community
  • Civic involvement
  • Moral character

Recent Winners
2021 –  Joe McKenney (Biddeford), 2020 – Ron St. Pierre and David Mansfield (Bangor), 2019 – Lawrence Kovacs (Bath), 2018 – Jamie Dorr (Bath), 2017 – Lynn Hynes (Yarmouth), 2016 – Matt Libby (Bath), Rob Washburn (Skowhegan), Kenny Fickett (Gorham), Ted Hellier (South Portland), Sharri MacDonald & Linda Mailhot (Old Orchard Beach), David Lindemann (Hampden), Keith Gray (Yarmouth), Matthew Schilmoeller (Orono)


2022 Outstanding Parks Professional Award Winner
Barry Alden, Raymond Parks & Recreation

Barry Alden has been working for the Town of Raymond for fifteen years as the Park Maintenance Manager at Tassel Top Park, A Land for Maine’s Future property that is owned by the State of Maine and operated by Raymond Parks and Recreation Department. Barry was my first hire in March of 2020. He previously stepped down from his role the following season and when hearing of management change was considering coming back to work for Tassel Top Park. Within minutes of meeting Barry, I could tell his passion for the Park and was hired on the spot.

Usually with an existing position like Barry’s. A certain routine of doing the “normal” maintenance and what has been done in the past becomes evident. The exact opposite happened. Barry came up with a beautification plan for the park that required a lot of hard work and planning. Reconfiguring how recreational spaces are being used and returning the Park to a more natural Maine setting was his goal. It was a complete transformation of the Park. It was also bringing a lot of attention from our regular users. People who come back every year were glowing with compliments on the changes he made or directed

Outstanding Parks Professional Award

  • Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have a minimum of 10 years working full time in the parks and/or facilities profession and at least a five-year period should have been within the State of Maine.
  • Education: Priority is given to candidates with a degree in Parks & Recreation, or a related field.
  • Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation (CPRP), Sports Field Management (CSFM), Horticulture (CPH) or certification in related field.
  • Professional Affiliation: Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA. Any additional affiliations will hold value.
  • Professional Involvement: Distinctive leadership as a parks manager, support staff crew leader, park supervisor, or park ranger in which his/her dedicated service has advanced the organization’s mission or vision.

Recent Winners
2021 – Kevin Bailey (Windham), 2020 John “Linky” Erskine (South Portland), 2019 – Jay Astle (Brunswick), 2018 – John Kelley (Bangor), 2017 – Rick, Perruzzi (South Portland), 2016 -Zac Wiest (Yarmouth)


Katahdin Award

Selected by the MRPA Board of Directors and presented to a Maine elected official or other Maine citizen (serving at the local, state or federal level) who, through their support of park and recreation services or policies at the Local, State or National level, has significantly enhanced the lives of the people of the State of Maine.

Recent Winners
Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins