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Three Park & Recreation Leaders Awarded Prestigious Pugsley Medal

Posted: November 24, 2014

Eric W. O’Brien of Medfield, MA; James A. Peterson of Bloomington, IN; and Kathryn A. Porter of Mendham Twsp, NJ have been awarded Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals, the most prestigious award recognizing outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks in the United States.

Eric W. O’Brien has been involved in the parks and recreation movement for nearly five decades. Not only has he worked to create a thriving family business, M.E. O’Brien & Sons, Inc., but he has volunteered in his home community of Medfield, MA on up to the state, national and even international level. He chaired the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Board of Trustees 1995-1999, and he currently chairs the Foundation for Sustainable Parks & Recreation. He served on the steering committee for the US Play Coalition and as a world judge and corporate director for Nations in Bloom.

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As part of his distinguished career at Indiana University, James A. Peterson started the first executive development program for park and recreation professionals in 1966 and served as its director for 24 years. He taught park and recreation management at IU and worked, on a joint appointment, as a cooperative extension specialist in parks and recreation at Purdue University for more than 20 years. In addition to serving as NRPA President, he is the only person to have chaired two NRPA Congresses. He also chaired the Scotland Overseas Study Program for IU and was the USA Commissioner to the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administrators for ten years.

Kathryn “Katie” Porter has been dedicated to parks and preservation of the natural environment for more than 50 years. She was mayor of Mendham Township, NJ. She served on the Morris County (NJ) Park Commission for 25 years; she was vice chair of the Governor’s Council on New Jersey Outdoors and on the board of the New Jersey Committee for the Trust of Public Lands. She served as NRPA Chair 1989-1991, participated on countless committees and was named a life trustee in 1998 for her accumulated efforts. She has also been involved in the National Recreation Foundation, including serving as past president.

As Pugsley Medal winners, they are in good company. Previous winners include Stephen Mather, the founder of the National Park Service; former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall; Noted Conservationist Lady Bird Johnson; and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics.

The Pugsley Award is presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Park Foundation (nationalparks.org) and The Davey Tree Expert Company (davey.com).

More complete biographies and more information on the Pugsley Award, its history and complete list of winners is available on the Academy’s website at aapra.org.


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