Cullman Parks, Recreation, & Sports Tourism accepts award for national accreditation

Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Executive Director Nathan Anderson (center, tan jacket) with City of Cullman officials who traveled to Baltimore to attend the National Recreation and Park Association’s 2019 Annual Conference. (Photo courtesy Anna Anderson)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST) representatives, accompanied by numerous members of Cullman’s city government, traveled to Baltimore, Maryland this week to attend the National Recreation and Park Association’s 2019 Annual Conference, where CPRST became the first parks and recreation system in the state of Alabama to receive accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). According to CAPRA’s website, CPRST is one of only 178 parks and recreation agencies across the country to hold the accreditation.

After CPRST received its accreditation plaque in a ceremony Wednesday evening, CPRST Executive Director Nathan Anderson told The Tribune, “Our agency has been recognized as a leader amongst its peers for many years; however, we are always looking for ways to improve operations, planning, and how we serve our community. After going through this process we feel we have the right plan in place to strategically and systematically improve quality of life for all within our community. We also hope to be a catalyst for a new accreditation movement within our State.”

District Judge Rusty Turner, who is chairman of the CPRST Board, reflected, “What does this mean for the city, community and the state? I believe it will encourage other departments across the state to take this step to help their communities.  Locally, I hope it will ensure we continue to deliver a quality product that will make people want to visit and live in the Cullman community.”

“CAPRA accreditation to me means that we are taking extra steps to ensure that we are offering the best programs and facilities and measuring ourselves against the national standards,” said CPRST Director of Operations Kyle Clark. “The standards we developed for our policies and procedures gives up a blueprint of how our organization operates. Being involved in establishing these standards has helped educate me on ways to run our department much more efficiently.”

To qualify for CAPRA accreditation, CP&R had to meet standards in numerous areas, including, among others: mission, agency goals and objectives, vision, policies and procedures, development of a system master plan and involvement in community strategic planning, relationships to other agencies and to the community, establishing policies for public sharing of information, personnel policies and procedures, code of ethics, promoting equal employment opportunities and workplace diversity, clearly established fiscal policy and management procedures, comprehensive accounting system including independent audits, outreach to diverse populations, codes and ordinances for safety and law enforcement, comprehensive risk management plan and systematic evaluation processes.

According to the agency, “Through a process of peer verification of compliance with these national standards, CAPRA accreditation assures policy makers, department staff, and the general public that an accredited park and recreation agency has the operational capacity to deliver programs, facilities, and services at a high level of quality.”

Officials are pleased with the accreditation, but no one seems to see it as any kind of finish line.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs said, “This will be the foundation that we will use to build the next level of Cullman’s Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism. With these standards and practices in place, we can go to new levels that might not have been possible before.”

“This is a first step for our department,” Turner added. “We will build on this and continue to raise our standards, so we serve the community the way they deserve.”

See the full video of the awards presentation at


W.C. Mann