KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation was named a finalist for the 2019 National Recreation and Park Association National Gold Medal Award last month.

The National Gold Medal Award honors civilian communities in the United States and military installations around the world in seven size categories that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for U.S. Armed Forces recreation, and one class, awarded on odd-numbered years, for state park systems.

"The Gold Medal Awards program has served as a testament to the hard work and dedication of recreation professionals who strive to meet the needs of diverse communities," said Gary Burton, DFMWR director. "The Gold Medal is a comprehensive award that looks at the many challenges agencies face and how they are leveraging resources to meet those challenges."

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials. Four finalists in each class are chosen to compete each year.

Besides USAG RP, 2019's Armed Forces Class finalists were: Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan; Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Melton, Florida; and USAG Bavaria, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

The finalists were announced in September and the winners were announced at the end of September. Camp Butler took home the award in the Armed Forces category but, Ingrid Osewalt, DFMWR deputy director, said being named a finalist the first time the garrison applied was a great feeling and they learned something about the way they do business here in Kaiserslautern and how they can plan for next year.

"It is an honor to be selected in this elite group of professionals," said Osewalt. "This tells me that what we do in terms of recreational programming for our Soldiers, civilians and their families is valued as much as our civilian counterparts."

The entry packet consisted of answering nine questions, including; "What makes your MWR outstanding," "How does your MWR positively impact the installation you serve," and "Please explain three innovations implemented by your MWR in the last three years." Each question required multiple answers. A video was also submitted.

"Not winning inspired us even more to try again. It inspired us to know we have a chance to win that medal one day," Osewalt said.

Osewalt said she and Steve Selvey, Outdoor Recreation supervisor, put the packet together and have some takeaways for next year.

"We have to focus our submissions in certain areas. We can really rally around this goal just like we have on the Army Community of Excellence Award," she said.

"The competition makes you aware of just how many great things our organization offers within the USAG RP footprint," Selvey added. "It gives you energy and ideas to further improve how we serve our military community."