2020 Award Recipients

The South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association annually 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 2020 SDPRA award winners!

  • Years of Service Awards: LaRon Klock, Lori Skadsen, John Bame, John Christensen, Jody Moats, Brad Nelson, Ryan Persoon, Travis Theilen
  • Organization Citation Award: South Dakota Game, Fish and Park Educators
  • Community Excellence Award: Brad Mollet and Mollet Industrial Group of Jefferson, SD

Years of Service Recognition

Several parks and recreation professionals were recently recognized for their long-time service and contributions to the field by the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association (SDPRA). Eight individuals were recognized, including two professionals with over 40 years of service each.

“These eight professionals are shining examples of the commitment our members have to parks and recreation in South Dakota,” said Jean Pearson, SDPRA Awards Chair. “Members often devote entire careers to improving quality of life through parks and recreation. We thank them for their outstanding contributions, which benefit their local communities as well as visitors to South Dakota.”

LaRon Klock, Huron, and Lori Skadsen, Grenville, were each recognized for contributing 40 years of service to the field.

Klock currently serves as the Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the city of Huron, South Dakota. Skadsen is a District Park Supervisor with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, overseeing several state parks in the northeast region, including Roy Lake and Fort Sisseton State Parks, and Pickerel Lake Recreation Area.

The association also acknowledged several individuals for their 20-year service:

  • John Bame, District Park Supervisor, Lake Herman State Park, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  • John Christensen, Park Manger, Pickerel Lake Recreation Area, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  • Jody Moats, Park Manager/Naturalist, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  • Brad Nelson, Park Manager, Rocky Point Recreation Area, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  • Ryan Persoon, District Park Supervisor, West Whitlock Recreation Area, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  • Travis Theilen, Division Staff Specialist – Planning and Development, Pierre, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

The South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association announced the recipients via social media in lieu of their traditional in-person conference and banquet. Recipients will be recognized and celebrated in local presentations.


Organization Citation Award

South Dakota Game, Fish and Park Educators

Acting GFP Secretary Kevin Robling accepts the Organization Citation Award on behalf of the GFP educators from SDPRA President-Elect Katy Hiltunen.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks was recently named the recipient of the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association’s Organization Citation Award. The award recognized the efforts of the department to promote and support recreation in local communities by providing alternative programming and events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Educational programming was especially challenging this year,” said Kevin Robling, Interim Secretary for the Game, Fish and Parks. “With staff shortages and duties being redirected to other areas, programming could have easily been pushed aside this year. Instead, the GFP educators stepped up and got creative.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff had to come up with innovative ways to engage with the public, such as providing virtual programming on social media and Zoom; creating self-guided activities; offering virtual skills sessions to enable folks to participate in activities on their own; and modifying in-person programs to meet social-distancing guidelines.

Game, Fish and Parks also recognized that the outdoors offered fresh air, exercise and plenty of room for social distancing, and made a commitment to keep the outdoors open for users. State parks and public access areas remained open during the pandemic, including all recreational facilities within them like trails, basketball courts, playgrounds and swim beaches. Personal responsibility and CDC guidelines were stressed to visitors and staff. Many parks were even able to continue offering rental and checkout equipment, allowing users to experience a new activity with their family group.

“The group being recognized includes educators, park managers, volunteers and administrative staff,” said Robling. “They saw the importance of continuing recreation and recruiting, retaining and reactivating campers during the pandemic and devoted time to make it happen, even amid many other demands for their time.”

The Organization Citation Award recognizes an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to parks, recreation, or conservation at the local, state, regional, or national level.

The South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association announced award winners via social media in lieu of their traditional in-person conference and banquet. SDPRA President-Elect Katy Hiltunen presented the award on behalf of the association to Acting GFP Secretary Kevin Robling on March 4.


Community Excellence Award

Brad Mollet and Mollet Industrial Group of Jefferson, SD

Adams Homestead Park Manager Jody Moats presents Brad Mollet of Mollet Industrial Group with the SDPRA Community Excellence Award. Joining them are Jason Sweitzer from Mollet Industrial Group and Kollin Jones and Will Barker of BarCon. The two companies, along with The Claussen Group, worked together on one of the park’s major projects last year.

Brad Mollet and Mollet Industrial Group of Jefferson, SD, were recently recognized with the Community Excellence Award by the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association for their support of Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. Several projects at the park have been accomplished through assistance by Mollet Industrial Group and Mollet personally.

“Brad Mollet and Mollet Industrial Group have been true supporters of Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve for several years,” said Adams Homestead Park Manager Jody Moats. “Brad always says he loves this park, and it shows.”

In 2017, Mollet Industrial Group contributed significantly discounted services to install the concrete foundation for the parks’ popular Cottonwood Playground. More recently, Mollet Industrial Group worked with companies Barcon and The Claussen Group to move a building so a gazebo memorializing the parks’ donors could be constructed. This winter, the company was a major sponsor of the new Homestead Holidays event at the park, which decorated the homestead’s buildings to provide a COVID-19 guideline-friendly holiday outing.

In addition to support through his business, Mollet contributes to the park on a personal level. Mollet and his family serve as volunteers – they’ve helped build a chicken coop for Sonny’s Acres, coordinated activities for the annual Adams Homestead Celebration, and parked cars for the Pickin’ in the Park event. As a neighbor to the park, Mollet planted trees and native grasses on his adjacent land to provide additional wildlife habitat, and even created space in his yard to raise honeybees to help pollination of plants in the area.

“The support and love for this park shines through with Brad and his business,” said Moats. “Thanks to those contributions, we’re able to increase opportunities for the community and maintain stewardship of area habitat. We are lucky and grateful to have them as neighbors, supporters and friends of the park.”

The Community Excellence Award is awarded to an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to parks, recreation, or conservation at the local, state, regional, or national level by actively supporting and promoting the field or profession through financial donations or fundraising acquisition, development, or maintenance of areas or the organization or conduct of activities and services of parks and recreation.

The South Dakota Parks and Recreation Association announced Mollet as the award winner via social media in lieu of their traditional in-person conference and banquet. Moats presented the award on behalf of the association to Mollet in a small local gathering at Adams Homestead on April 21.