Release Date

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 4, 2023 - The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, has selected Missouri State Parks as a finalist for the 2023 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

“We are thrilled to be selected as a National Gold Medal finalist,” said Dru Buntin, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “It is an honor for Missouri State Parks to be nationally recognized for ongoing efforts to address the needs of park and site visitors by providing safe and equitable spaces, high level customer service and innovative programming.”

Missouri is one of a handful of states that does not charge entrance fees to its state parks, thanks in part to the Parks, Soil and Water Sales Tax.

“The citizen support for our parks is outstanding,” said Buntin. “The last time the sales tax renewed, it passed by 80% of the voters across Missouri. The sales tax helps give every Missourian the opportunity to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation while exploring Missouri’s history.”

Missouri State Parks is competing against three other state park systems for the top award: Ohio State Parks and Watercraft; Texas State Parks; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails. The National Recreation and Park Association will announce the winner at its annual conference in October in Dallas.

“This recognition can be attributed to an outstanding and dedicated group of professional team members caring for our 92 state parks and historic sites,” said David Kelly, director of Missouri State Parks. “We are very proud of our team and the work they do each and every day to provide a quality experience for our visitors.”

For more information concerning the Gold Medal Award program, visit

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.


Contact Information