2016 Award Recipients

Annually, the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association (SDPRA) recognizes organizations and individuals for their work and dedication to communities through parks and recreation. Awards are selected by past and present SDPRA Board members composed of parks and recreation professionals. The awards encourage dedication and support to the field of parks and recreation.

Congratulations to the 2016 SDPRA Award Winners!
Longevity Award: Diane Gildemaster, Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation
Individual Citation: Jeff Scherschligt
Organization Commitment Citation: Great Bear Recreation Park Inc.
Distinguished Citizen: Larry Leveranz, South Dakota Junior Football
Community Excellence: Jon Jacobson and the Confluence Team
Meritorious Professional Service: Doug Lowe, Rapid City Parks and Recreation
Hall of Fame Award: Dave Fischer, Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation

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Longevity Award: Diane Gildemaster, Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation
District Supervisor Diane Gildemaster has served 28 years with Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation and one year at the YMCA as Program Director in Mitchell, SD. She has held a seasonal position at Custer State Park as a campground attendant. Her tenure in Sioux Falls began as a seasonal volleyball supervisor, co-ed softball supervisor, internship and then as a long-term employee in Park Operations. Diane also completed a forestry internship at Big Sioux Nursery in Watertown as well as a Forestry internship for Huron Parks and Recreation.

Individual Citation: Jeff Scherschligt
jeff-scherschligt_individual-citationThere is an old Chinese proverb that goes like this “those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it”. The meaning behind this proverb perfectly describes Jeff Scherschligt, this year’s recipient of the Individual Citation Award. Jeff is rooted in the landscape of South Dakota and is part of the fabric of people who make things happen in our great state. As a successful Sioux Falls businessman, Jeff has generously chosen to share his time and treasure in many ways. For the Game Fish and Parks (GF&P) this has come in a variety of ways, most notably over recent times, Good Earth State Park.

From the beginning, this project intrigued Jeff with his love of history and making things happen for his local community of Sioux Falls. Jeff was one of the first people to come to the table with his own money as part of a $2 million dollar match challenge Governor Daugaard initiated with private investors to help the GF&P in building a world class Visitor Center at Good Earth State Park. Jeff used his commitment to challenge others to make a similar investment to see this park created the “right way” and ultimately to exceed the Governor’s fundraising challenge. Often this came in the form of offering advice and motivation to build the visitor center at Good Earth to appropriately showcase the tribal people’s rich history and cultural practices that once inhabited this beautiful landscape just east of Sioux Falls. Jeff Scherschligt has led dozens of community organizations whose purpose is to strengthen the people and life of Sioux Falls and South Dakota. Jeff not only leads organizations and capital campaigns, he attaches himself to specific causes that reflect his interests and values.

Organization Commitment Citation: Great Bear Recreation Park Inc.
great-bear-recreation_organization-commitmentThe Organization Commitment Citation Award was presented to Great Bear Recreation Park Inc. (GBRP) GBRP has partnered with Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation in the improvement and operation of Great Bear Recreation Park since 1991. Since then GBRP has raised over 2.3 million dollars toward the re-development of Great Bear. Some of the major improvements include a tubing hill, expanded chalet, expanded alpine skiing, and beginners/teaching hill, hiking trails, and expanded cross country ski trails. Recently, GBRP completed an updated master plan for the park and matched funding with the city to complete phase 1 of the plan which consisted of a total renovation of the tubing hill. The $700,000 project increased the number of tubing lanes from 4 to 12 and reduced wait times from 45 minutes to less than 10 minutes.

GBRP has been an active partner in promoting Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation mission of providing a quality system of parks and recreation facilities and positive leisure opportunities that are available to all persons in the community. The year around program offerings provided by GBRP Inc. at Great Bear Recreation Park are a significant part of the diverse recreational opportunities available to the entire region.

Distinguished Citizen: Larry Leveranz, South Dakota Junior Football
larry-leveranz_distinguished-citizenThe Distinguished Citizen Award is presented to a citizen volunteer who demonstrates outstanding leadership, counsel, contributions, or other efforts to assist a park and recreation agency in its programs or projects. Larry Leveranz has worked diligently for 30 years to help promote the Junior Football program for the youth of South Dakota. He has coached numerous football teams as well as softball and baseball. He is always about the children involved in the program. Larry has been the point of contact between South Dakota Junior Football and Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation for many years, and he was instrumental in securing land for the new nine-field football complex at the Sanford Sports Complex. Larry has been involved with SDJFB and the youth of our community for over 30 years, and he has impacted countless youth in a positive manner. His passion for youth and his love of the game of football is the perfect combination in transforming boys into productive young men.

Community Excellence: Jon Jacobson and the Confluence Team
john-jacobson_community-excellenceCommunity Excellence Award recognizes one exceptional business for their tireless work of promoting activities in the field of parks and recreation. Jon Jacobson and the team at Confluence are progressive thinkers that put function and sustainability at the forefront of all their designs. Confluence has played a dynamic roll in the development of South Dakota. Their expertise in planning, design, and construction has helped shape our park system into the wonderful experience it is today. For over 15 years, Confluence has been intimately involved in the development of neighborhood parks, community and regional parks, sports complexes, recreational trails, urban plazas, and river greenways throughout the city of Sioux Falls and the surrounding region. As stewards of the land, they aspire to create a human connection with each project and its surrounding context while respecting nature. Confluence was instrumental in the implementation of the City of Sioux Falls Greenway and Riverfront Master Plan. They adapted the concepts set forth in the overall master plan to the downtown Sioux Falls greenway stretch and worked with staff and adjacent property owners to identify specific improvements to be considered. The downtown greenway projects have cleaned up a severely impaired stretch of the river greenway and have been a catalyst for over $100M worth of private redevelopment.

Jon Jacobson and the Confluence team have been an advocate on many different fronts and projects in the past 15 years. They have been instrumental in gaining consensus on the importance of preservation of green space and park and recreation activities during presentations at public neighborhood meetings, landowner and stakeholder meetings, Park Board and City Council meetings, and through media interviews. These efforts have helped secure the funding and support necessary to build new parks, renovate existing parks, and develop the greenway and bike trail system in Sioux Falls.

Meritorious Professional Service: Doug Lowe, Rapid City Parks and Recreation
doug-lowe_meritorious-professional-serviceRapid City Parks and Recreation’s Doug Lowe was the recipient of the Meritorious Professional Service Award. Doug’s leadership involvement is spread throughout the recreation and sports environment in Rapid City. Doug has been involved in Rushmore Little League as president, board member, coach and advisor. He has also been involved with ASA Girls Fast pitch program as a manager and coach. He has also been a part of the Rapid City Central Girls softball program for three years as a coach. His coaching experience has also included Black Hills Pony League and Rapid City Central Baseball program. He has coached many youth basketball travel teams and has been an umpire or basketball referee for over 20 years. He has been a member of the SDPRA and the NRPA for his whole career with the City of Rapid City, a total of 19 years. He is been on many committees, Black Hills Tennis Association, Rapid City Soccer Association, Little League advisor, and POST 320. Doug has always worked closely with associations in Rapid City. He was the project leader for the Rapid City Recreational Facility Grant for nine years, helping develop all the association facilities in town to the best of their abilities. Doug also leads the Ice, Golf and Aquatic Committees, which give guidance in the direction of programs, policies and plans for the three of the four divisions he manages within the Rapid City Parks and Recreation Division.

Hall of Fame Award: Dave Fischer, Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation
dave-fischer_hall-of-fameSDPRA Hall of Fame Award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the parks and recreation field in South Dakota based on reputable performance attested to personal record of accomplishments. The 2016 recipient is Dave Fischer from Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation. His upward mobility includes the start of his professional career with the City of Watertown in 1981 as a Park Manager at Stokes-Thomas Lake City Park. A few years later he was hired by SD Game Fish and Parks as a District Park Ranger at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area and finished his career with Game Fish and Parks as a District Park Ranger at Palisades State Park. In 1990, Dave began his new career with the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department as a Park Superintendent. In 2000, he was promoted to Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation. His progressively responsible positions with both agencies demonstrates his great leadership and supervisory abilities. Dave can be characterized as a salt of the earth guy, a guy who has always been respected by his peers and subordinates. He is always firm, but fair when mentoring his employees and most of all supportive of his employees by trying to get the very best out of our team members.

Dave has also been a proven leader in times of transition between three city directors during his 26 year tenure with the City of Sioux Falls. During this time he served in an interim director role on two occasions in our states largest city. Dave’s passion for the profession and always seeking to what is right and best for the people of this great state and for the people of Sioux Falls, is what makes him a special parks and recreation professional. He has been key facilitator of the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Departments accreditation process which put SFPR towards achieving accreditation in 2010 and once again in 2015 when we were re-accredited.

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