CP&R Executive Director, Nathan Anderson, was named Outstanding New Professional by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association. / Photo courtesy of CP&R
CULLMAN – It was a great weekend for Cullman Parks and Recreation, culminating on Tuesday night when it brought home two awards from the annual Alabama Recreation and Parks Association Conference in Tuscaloosa. CP&R was named Agency of the Year while, Executive Director Nathan Anderson was named Outstanding New Professional.
Anderson was excited to receive the prestigious award but believes it’s as much a team award as it is an individual one.
“It’s truly an honor to receive an award like that; however, I don’t feel, even though it’s an individual award, that its something that is achieved individually,” Anderson said. “That truly is something that was acquired through the great efforts of an incredible parks and rec team, the support and work of an amazing board and the support felt at the council and mayor level.”
The chairman of that board is Judge Wells Turner, and he was excited for the department’s Tuesday night haul as well.
“The members of the Cullman Park and Recreation Board are excited that the hard work and dedication of the staff of the department was recognized by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association,” said Turner. “We also appreciate the continuing support of Mayor (Woody) Jacobs and the city council for the programs and facilities that are for the benefit of all of Cullman County and the surrounding communities. As a board, we are committed to improving the quality of life through excellence in facilities, programs and events, but it could not be accomplished without the best employees which we are blessed to have.”
Despite Anderson’s humility, CP&R’s Marketing, Programs and Events Director Waid Harbison is excited for him and the new opportunities this will bring to the department.
“The award Nathan won was the Outstanding New Professional Award, so that is basically the best parks and rec professional in the state that has been in parks and recreation management (for less than five years),” Harbison said. “We go to the state conference every year and I think absolutely we learn something new all the time. We are blessed to be one of best departments, and like Nathan said we have a great board, we have a great mayor and council and they’re always backing us, but there are always other departments doing unique things and we visited a lot of their facilities; we’ve looked at a lot of things and I think there are things we can take from it and develop in the future for sure.”
As excited as the department is to receive the awards, they had these kinds of expectations early on considering the amount of support and history they have in the community.
“For our agency, Cullman Parks and Recreation has a rich history in doing things with excellence and having outstanding facilities and programs, an amazing team and support from the board, the council, the mayor; there’s always been that rich history here,” Anderson said. “So, it was something that doesn’t surprise me because it didn’t take me long to see how special we have it here in Cullman with such an amazing team.”
The Agency Award is given out annually but judged on the cumulative state of a department. Anderson understands that well and his goal is to not only maintain the department’s high standards but continue to raise them.
“Our mission statement is that Cullman Parks and Recreation is dedicated to improving quality of life through exceptional parks, facilities, events and recreational opportunities for all; that’s something that is ongoing,” he said. “Everybody that shows up to work every day is committed to that mission and we’re always looking for ways to excel and improve so that we can ultimately give an opportunity for everyone to get out and live and enjoy a quality of life in our community.”
Not everyone that works for CP&R could go to the conference in Tuscaloosa, but Harbison credits the success of the department to the staff working all across the community.
“We have an awesome team here at parks and rec; our staff is awesome. Winning the Agency of the Year Award, you’re looking at 10 administrators over their different facilities; we really have the best facilities. I mean to me we have the best golf course of any park and rec, we’ve got the best wellness center of any park and rec, we’ve got the best water park. I mean we just have administrators that come in and work around the clock. They’re awesome, they put in a lot of hard time. All of their employees, all of their staff do a lot, from our maintenance department, to our front desk people, we just put it all on the best from top to bottom and it’s because of how awesome our staff is,” he said. “Really this is a huge and awesome award for all of our staff and all their hard work and what they’re doing because they come in and they understand the mission statement and it’s not just a job for them. They’ve bought into this, they’re trying to help the community and they show up every day and do that. I think that’s what really sets us apart from everybody else is we’ve got a staff of 250 people, part-time and full-time, that comes to work every day and they get it and they want to work for the community.”
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