2018 Award Recipients

Annually, the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association 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 2018 SDPRA award winners!

  • Longevity Awards:
    • Mark Robinson, South Dakota State Parks, Palisades
    • George Flanery, South Dakota State Parks, Roy Lake
    • Bob Schneider, South Dakota State Parks, Pierre
    • Bruce Hovelson, City of Brookings Parks, Recreation and Forestry
  • Individual Citation Award: Dale Larson, Larson Manufacturing
  • Community Excellence Award: Brookings Summer Arts Festival
  • Young Professional Award: Josh Bauman, City of Brookings Parks, Recreation and Forestry
  • Hall of Fame Award: Doug Johnson, Aberdeen Parks, Recreation & Forestry

Individual Citation Award
Dale Larson, Larson Manufacturing

The Individual Citation Award is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to parks, recreation, or conservation at the local, state, regional or national level. This citation was presented to Dale Larson, Larson Manufacturing. We all work with many organizations in our communities. Dale Larson and the Larson Family Foundation have been instrumental in providing continued support to improve the quality of life in the Brookings community by being a contributor to many projects and initiatives including the Larson Ice Center, Hillcrest Aquatic Center, Dakota Nature Park, the Children’s Museum and many other projects that would not be accessible to the community and visitors were it not for Larson’s vision and support. Larson’s efforts include utilizing the Larson Family Foundation to help people in need to achieve a better quality of life, with the main emphasis being to fulfill basic human needs. In the parks and recreation field, Dale’s support as a contributor to the Brookings Park system has allowed the community the opportunity to offer facilities and amenities to recreate and enhance one’s wellness both mentally and physically. Larson’s support is invaluable to the community and as a City, we are very appreciative! The Larson Family Foundation is a private, non-profit organization, established by Dale. The purpose is to give back to the community of Brookings and the state of South Dakota. The Larson Family recognizes the need in South Dakota to help improve the quality of life for all South Dakotans. By being a partner with many organizations within Brookings and specifically the City of Brookings, Dale Larson has been instrumental in providing resources, ideas and creativity that has allowed the City to have outstanding amenities.

Community Excellence Award
Brookings Summer Arts Festival

Brookings Summer Arts Festival

Brookings Summer Arts Festival Committee

SDPRA recognized an exceptional business for their tireless work of promoting activities in the field of parks and recreation. The Community Excellence Award was presented to the Brookings Summer Arts Festival Committee (BSAF). BSAF is a volunteer committee who works tirelessly to produce this extravaganza of art, food and entertainment for the whole family. BSAF is South Dakota’s premier art festival. It annually hosts over 200 artists from across the nation representing 15 disciplines of art. BSAF transforms Pioneer Park into an outdoor art gallery that showcases the wares of the best regional artists and skilled craftsmen. The festival also hosts educational activities, live entertainment and gourmet and ethnic food booths. The committee still meets over cups of coffee to plan the festival, just as the original planners did in 1972. Year after year this committee diligently considers every detail to ensure the festival is enjoyable for the 75,000 visitors it hosts over the two day event. The Brookings Summer Arts Festival is a testimony to what a good idea and a lot of hard work can do. Each and every year a group of local volunteers plan an arts festival that surpasses the previous year.


Young Professional Award
Josh Bauman, City of Brookings Parks, Recreation and Forestry

Josh Bauman (left)

We are proud to present the 20018 Young Professional award to Josh Bauman. Josh volunteered his time and resources to raise the funds necessary and increase the size of the Brookings local dog park. He is an advocate of the Brookings Regional Humane Society and involved with church community. Through Josh’s church, he organizes and leads two park cleanups each year. To better his knowledge in the field of Parks and Recreation, Josh used his own resources to become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). He is the only CPRP in the department. Josh is also a certified Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) for the City of Brookings. Additionally, Josh redesigned park landscapes that emphasized nature planting that are pollinator friendly. These redesigned landscapes significantly decreased annual planting costs and labor costs for the City of Brookings.


Hall of Fame Award
Doug Johnson, Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry

Doug Johnson (left)

SDPRA 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 2018 recipient is Doug Johnson, Director of Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Johnson has been involved in the park and recreation field for over 40 years. Johnson is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in Park Management. His educational pursuits have included several NRPA National and Regional Conferences, NRPA Executive Development School; as well as many International Amusement Park Association Conventions. He has been active in the South Dakota Park and Recreation Association during his professional career having served on the SDPRA Board as President in 1985-86, as well as, various SDPRA committees over the years and has been on the State Conference Host committee for FIVE conferences; including two joint conferences with North Dakota.

Johnson began his professional career as Parks & Recreation Director in Douglas, Arizona in 1978. He became the Parks Superintendent for the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in 1980. In 1981, he was promoted to the position of Director for the Department and has held that position ever since.

Under Johnson’s supervision, the Department has seen considerable expansion and growth. Aberdeen’s Wylie Park and Storybook Land Theme Park have experienced the most growth and expansion during his years as Director. The park underwent a $3 million expansion in 1992 and now serves as a regional attraction for Northeastern South Dakota. In addition, the park has nearly 3,500 campers visit annually. The park has increased camping units, new recreational trails, expanded zoo and picnic areas, and development of Wylie Lake. The expansion of Storybook Land has been miraculous with the addition of a new Visitors Center, the Balloon Ride and Coaster Ride, the Castle, Carousel, and miniature replica train on railed tracks, Land of Oz; as well as, the addition of exhibits and play areas. People from all over the United States visit this park and are impressed by it.

Other accomplishments include the $7.2 Million Family Aquatic Center which opened in 2007, converting the old high school into the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center which opened in 2005, and the development of the Kuhnert Arboretum. The Department has developed over 25 miles of trails throughout the community and added a 60-acre soccer complex and 3 new parks areas.

One of Johnson’s strengths has been his ability to work with the special interest groups and associations in the community. He has worked hard to develop strong relationships that benefit the department and help the community. In addition, Johnson can be credited for providing the department and the City of Aberdeen with grants and fundraising that totals into the millions of dollars!

The department has received many awards during Johnson’s tenure, including:

  • Wylie Park and Storybook Land in 1991 received the Professional Grounds Maintenance Grand Award from Grounds Maintenance Magazine and Professional Grounds Management Society in recognition for outstanding accomplishment and excellence in grounds maintenance.
  • 1995 People’s Choice Abby Award
  • Three NRPA Dorothy Mullen National Arts & Humanities Awards
  • 2009 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Support of the Arts by an Organization
  • Governor’s Great Service Starr Award for Customer Service for 8 years
  • 2016 Trip Adviser Certification of Excellence for Storybook Land

In the 2016 Department Community Survey determined that the community overall satisfaction for Parks, Services and Facilities indicated over 90% of users were either “satisfied or very satisfied” with Storybook Land/Wylie Park, Parks and Playgrounds, Aquatic Center and Wylie Campground. For any professional, this is probably the highest compliment that could be given, and Johnson deserves much of the credit.

In addition to his professional work, Johnson has been active in the community and in particular with the Aberdeen Sertoma Club and being named their Sertoman of the Year in 2012. Johnson’s family includes his wife Lori and his children Jesse, Nicole, Ashley and granddaughter, Miko.