The National Recreation and Park Association Keeping the Outdoor Spirit Alive

The modest mission of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)—"To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people"—"belies the complexity of the organization itself: its unique structure, its rich history, its impressive successes, and its ambitions for the future.

The NRPA has about 25,000 members and 66 employees. Most work from its headquarters situated near a park in Ashburn, Virginia, near Dulles Airport, about 30 miles outside of Washington. There also is a satellite office on 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the District, where four government affairs professionals monitor national policy that relates to parks and recreation. This is significant)—"there is a large legislative component to the NRPA's work.

The scope of the organization is vast. The NRPA operates on national, state, and local levels. The organization publishes a full-color monthly magazine, Parks & Recreation that deals with various issues in the field)—"March's issue, for example, focused on playgrounds.

Its annual congress draws upwards of 10,000 members. There are also regional meetings throughout the year. In April, NRPA sponsored the National Health & Livability Summit, where the topic was the child obesity crisis.

Finally, to raise awareness, the NRPA runs public service announcements touting the manifold benefits of parks and recreation. To that end, the organization funds research, publishes books, and commissions studies finding that, among other things, property values increase 20 percent when near a public park.