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Forest Preserves of Cook County Receives Five National Awards

In addition to being a place where plants and animals thrive, the Forest Preserves of Cook County works hard to inform the public of the many opportunities to learn about and explore our nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful. Using innovative strategies and programs, the Forest Preserves has been able to connect a diverse audience to the exceptional nature found in Cook County. Read below to learn more about some of the award-winning strategies, programs and leadership that help us with our mission.

2017 Achievement Award, National Association for Counties

The Forest Preserves’ Emmy® award-winning documentary, Chicago’s True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County, was awarded the 2017 Achievement Award from the National Association for Counties. The Achievement Awards Program seeks to recognize innovative county government programs, and recognized the documentary for raising the level of citizen understanding of the forest preserves. The documentary explores the Forest Preserves’ 70,000 acres teeming with plants and animals and offering recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities as told by staff, partners, volunteers and visitors.

Individual Service Award, Society for Outdoor Recreation Professionals

SORP’S Individual Service Award, presented to Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall, recognizes individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to the outdoor recreation profession. As the General Superintendent, Randall was recognized for his remarkable sense of integrity, openness, leadership and enthusiasm for collaboration and for empowering staff, partners, and volunteers to work together to protect nature and improve outdoor recreation.

Park and Recreation Program – Class II Award, National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials

The Forest Preserves’ Camping Leadership Immersion Course received the Park and Recreation Program – Class II Award by NACPRO for its innovative approach to connecting people to nature. CLIC is a weekend-long course for community group leaders to familiarize them with camping equipment, nature-based education and recreation activities, so that they have the knowledge and confidence to bring large groups camping in the preserves. Since launching in 2015, CLIC has trained more than 70 group workers and teachers, who in turn have brought out more than 500 participants.

Marketing Award, National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials

The multi-year Bird the Preserves initiative was awarded a NACPRO Marketing Award for its unique approach and exceptional outcomes. Bird the Preserves is an initiative that connects diverse communities to nature through expanded birding programs and events. Bird watching is one of the most popular outdoor recreation activities and through this popular marketing campaign, the Forest Preserves gained a new audience and grew its reputation as a premier, regional birding destination.

Outstanding Public Official Award, National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials

Randall also received the NACPRO Outstanding Public Official Award for significantly contributing to recreation, leisure and open space programs in one of the largest urban conservation districts in the nation. Randall is committed to ensuring that people from all backgrounds and walks of life have the opportunity to participate in healthy outdoor recreation and enjoy nature.