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  • Parks professional honored by industry organization

    The Arizona Parks and Recreation Association honored Kelly Cheeseman, a program manager for the community recreation division of Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, with its 2019 President’s Award at its annual conference Aug. 20-22 at the El Conquistador Resort.

    This award is given each year at the APRA Annual Conference and Trade Show and is selected by the Association’s President to bring special recognition to a member who has provided outstanding service and dedication to the organization.NRPR award

    Kristy Diaz-Trahan, director of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation, is the current APRA president. She said as soon as she took the helm, she knew who she would like to honor when the time came for selecting the President’s Award.  

    “This remarkable person has given so much to this organization,” Diaz-Trahan said. She cited Cheeseman’s leadership in fundraising and programming, recalling the group’s 2011 conference as a time “when the organization was on the brink of financial insolvency. … She stepped up and ensured that we had a conference in really dark financial days… to ensure that we organizationally still had an opportunity to celebrate ourselves, even through really tough times.”

    Cheeseman has held various posts and support roles within the association over the years, including with various committees, as south regional representative, branch chair, treasurer and secretary, and conference co-chair on two occasions. Within NRPR, she manages community centers from the top of Mt. Lemmon to Arivaca. She also assists the Recreation Division with some aspects of Shooting Sports as well as with operations in Ajo. 

    The group is a membership-based professional organization, not directly affiliated or supported by any city, state or county agency, that provides professional development, advocacy and resources to all who work in the field of parks, recreation and environmental conservation. Members include those who work for local municipalities, state and county parks, private recreation agencies, HOAs, golf courses and a variety of businesses that service the industry.

    Joe Barr, NRPR’s recreation superintendent, calls Cheeseman well-deserving of the honor. 

    “We all benefit from the efforts of people like Kelly who constantly strive to keep our profession moving forward and who make the effort to work behind the scenes to ensure that we all have access to high quality parks and recreation training and networking opportunities here in the Great State of Arizona!”

    Cheeseman said she was “absolutely speechless,” when she received the honor at the evening’s awards dinner, adding “those who know me would find that amazing!

    “I have worked with so many awesome Parks and Recreation professionals at APRA and to be considered deserving of the award by them was awe-inspiring. The organization has helped me grow both as a recreation professional as well as a person over that last 20 years and I am happy to give back to such a worthy organization.”
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