Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Receives Multiple Honors at Annual Professional Association Conference

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

​VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is proud to have received four awards at the 61st annual conference of the Virginia Recreation & Park Society hosted in Virginia Beach last month. Over 400 delegates from around the state gathered for the education focused event that provides an opportunity for parks and recreation professionals to learn as well as receive continuing education credit.

Of the 13 awards presented, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation was honored in the following four categories:


• Best New Renovation/Addition (Parks, Playgrounds, Greenways, and Trails): Lake Lawson/ Lake Smith Natural Area Restoration
The Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area restoration project was planned and implemented to creatively and sustainably restore this underutilized and little-known environmental gem. The Parks & Recreation department heard the concerns of the citizens and took careful steps to design and construct a place where families and individuals can gather to fish, play, paddle, recreate, or simply take in the breathtaking scenic views.


• Best New Program: Students on the Swim (S.O.S.)
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation launched the new SOS – Students on the Swim – program to help keep our children safe in the water. Among children ages 1 to 14, fatal drowning still remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. Parks & Recreation and Virginia Beach City Public Schools partnered to pilot this water safety educational program designed for second grade classes. The free program was launched with students from Title I schools where the students experience a 2-week American Red Cross-certified program, with a total of 10 lessons that incorporate the Standards of Learning (SOLs).


• Best New Environmental Sustainability: Urban Forest Management
The Urban Forest Management Plan was developed by Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation department, and adopted by City Council as an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan in January 2014. It outlines goals and objectives that will help preserve and shape Virginia Beach’s urban forest in the years to come. By the end of 2014, the plan had demonstrated measurable success in meeting its three primary goals: Assessment (vegetative resource), Management (resource management) and Collaboration (community framework). The Urban Forest Management Plan is structured around a sustainable urban forestry model focused on understanding trees as a valuable resource; proactively managing them; and partnering with residents, business owners, developers and non-profit organizations to protect and enhance the city’s urban forest.


• Distinguished Volunteer Service Award:  Virginia Beach Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson and Dr. Petra Snowden
Virginia Beach Councilmember Rosemary Wilson and Dr. Petra Snowden, owner of Acoustical Sheetmetal, were both instrumental in supporting the SOS program. Councilmember Rosemary Wilson helped to develop the partnership between Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation and City Public Schools. Helping teach children to swim is very personal for her, because at age 4, she was nearly one of the tragic statistics when she fell into a lake and came very close to losing her life. Dr. Snowden’s company is the premier donor for the SOS program. Her company’s financial support and unwavering commitment to supporting SOS has helped Parks & Recreation reach even more children. By giving of their time, talents, knowledge, and monetary gifts, these generous women have combined their efforts to make a positive impact in the lives of Virginia Beach’s youth.


This prestigious state-wide program honors individuals, agencies and organizations throughout Virginia who have demonstrated excellence in several areas during the previous calendar year. Almost 100 applications were submitted vying for awards in categories including Best New Special Event, Best New Facility, and Best in Media and Marketing.


About Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation’s vision is a balanced, sustainable and value-focused system of parks, recreation and public spaces that creates a sense of community. We are accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association. For more information, call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: 757-711 Virginia Relay), or visit Get Parks & Rec in your inbox! Sign up for our email newsletters at Find us on Facebook at

About Virginia Recreation & Park Society
The Virginia Recreation & Park Society (VRPS) is a private, non-profit professional organization, founded in 1953 and incorporated in 1956. Its purpose is to unite all professionals, students, and interested lay persons engaged in the field of recreation, parks and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia, into one body. The members work together to promote and improve the profession in all its diversity. VRPS is affiliated with the National Recreation & Park Association.