FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – For the first time, Forsyth County Parks and Recreation has received national accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.
Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said the staff has been working toward the honor for two years.
There are 151 standards in over 10 categories for agencies to achieve that show how a model department should do business, Pryor said. The commission looks for agencies that provide high quality services and experiences, along with providing assurance to the public that they’re meeting national standards of best practices.
At the end of September, the department earned the distinction at the commission’s national conference.
Forsyth County joins 165 agencies nationwide that are accredited. That includes 10 others in Georgia, including Alpharetta, Atlanta, Carrollton, Gainesville, Roswell, Savannah, Woodstock, Clayton County, Columbus and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
“While Parks and Recreation will get most of the credit for this, it is truly a great honor for Forsyth County,” Pryor said. “Of the 151 standards, it touches almost every other department in the county. The partnership and service we have with them, along with the policies they have in place, help govern how we run.”
Irby Brinson is the retired director of the Asheville, North Carolina, Parks and Recreation department, which was one of the first four programs to get accredited, and a member of the commission.
“It’s a tremendous honor to do this,” Brinson said. “It’s a difficult process that takes a lot of time and energy, along with a commitment from other departments to be involved. They also have to continue to do their regular job, which they do an excellent job at.”
During the process, Brinson visited some of the county’s park facilities.
“I’m just in awe of what you have here,” Brinson said. “The citizens should be very proud of what’s provided to them by the Board of Commissioners and through the department.”
It’s not required for agencies to go through the accreditation, Brinson said, but rather an honor.
“They’ve put the time and energy and put themselves out there to visitors across the country coming in and going through the standards one by one to determine if they meet them,” Brinson said. “It’s easy to say, ‘no,’ but to go through it is a tremendous accomplishment. Kudos to you for allowing that to happen.”
The benefits of getting the honor are countless, Brinson said.
“If you have a process where nothing is written down and you go through day in and day out with what has gone on in the past, without having the documentation and plans developed, you’re running by the seat of your pants,” Brinson said. “The accreditation forces agencies to put those things in writing. They become more efficient, effective and a better service to the community.”