Outdoor Industry Association has won this years National Recreation Resources Leadership Award, which is bestowed by the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the field of outdoor recreation research, planning, management, and policy.

Each year the SORP board of directors presents this prestigious award to a select individual or organization considered to have had a significant national impact on outdoor recreation and the outdoor recreation profession.  Selection criteria include an individual or organization deemed to have:  (a) demonstrated national leadership through science, education, policy change or advocacy, (b) had a significant national impact, and (c) had a lasting national impact.



The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) was founded in 1989 by outdoor industry professionals to preserve and promote standards for their industry. In addition to this core mission, the OIA works with more than 4,000 members to advocate for issues critical to the future of the outdoor industry; build stronger business leaders; and celebrate, inspire and grow the active outdoor community. Among many other relevant activities, the OIA has supported full funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, promoted youth participation in the outdoors, and has been an active and important national leader on a wide range of outdoor recreation issues.


The SORP Board of Directors will present eight awards in three categories during the awards luncheon that takes place on May 23 at the National Outdoor Recreation Conference in Traverse City, Michigan.
The other awards and their winners include:

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to up to three individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to the outdoor recreation profession. The award may recognize one specific contribution or a series of contributions over ones career. Selection criteria include: (a) employment as an outdoor recreation professional, and (b) significant and lasting contributions to the profession. Recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Service Award are:

  • Dr. Lowell Caneday, Regents Professor, Oklahoma State University
    During his 32 year career at Oklahoma State University Dr. Caneday has instructed hundreds of future outdoor recreation professionals and served on or chaired about 200 Masters Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation committees. He has also completed hundreds of presentations, research reports, monographs and publications. His numerous administrative roles include Associate Dean of both Graduate Programs and Undergraduate Programs.  Dr. Caneday has received numerous awards, including three separate awards as the universitys Outstanding Faculty Member. He is a devoted advocate for the outdoor recreation profession and the benefits of outdoor recreation for everyone.
  • Robert A. Fonte, Director, Stark County (Ohio) Park District
    Mr. Fonte was nominated by his staff for his … exceptional advocacy and leadership since 1994 that has transformed the Stark County(OH) Park District from a 4-park, 400-acre district to a district providing 14 parks with 4 lakes, 7,500 acres, 80 miles of multi-use trails, including 25 miles of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, and hundreds of educational programs. Annual revenues increased from $750,000 to over $7 million as a result of four countywide park levies approved by voters during his tenure.  A park commissioner noted: His visionary leadership and emphasis on long-range planning leaves no doubt that Stark Parks will continue to be an asset to our community.
  • Dusty Shultz, Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. During her amazing 40 year career with the National Park Service, Superintendent Shultz has worked her way up the ladder from a high school summer job with the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site to superintendent of four different National Park Service units. She was the first female superintendent at three of those units, including Sleeping Bear Dunes. She has also served on numerous committees, panels and boards; taught classes for the NPS; managed special programs; and has stayed involved in local community and civic efforts wherever she has lived and worked.  While crediting those who have helped her in her career, she is quick to point out the importance of mentoring others as they strive to advance their careers.

Project Excellence Award

The Project Excellence Award is presented annually to exemplary projects in the field of outdoor recreation research, planning, management, and policy. Selection criteria include: 1) Unique or special circumstances, 2) Problem solving, 3) Level of innovation and creativity, 4) Impact or effect of project, 5) Collaborative team planning effort. Recipients of the 2013 Project Excellence Award are:


  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Partners-North Eastern State Trail. This 71 mile Michigan Rail Trail connecting 11 rural communities in the northeastern tip of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan was a project of true collaboration among the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, the Top of Michigan Trails Council, and local governments.  It is the longest trail in the regional system and offers an extended journey for snowmobilers, hikers, bikers and equestrians through some of the most remote and unpopulated regions of the state.
  • The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, (M-NCPPC) Montgomery Parks; Montgomery County Department of Recreation; and GreenPlay, LLC-Vision 2030 Strategic Plan and 2012 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, Montgomery County, Maryland. The 2030 Strategic Plan, along with the 2012 Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS)Plan, includes both an innovative, long-term vision component and a practical, analysis-based implementation component to guide the two agencies in meeting the needs of one of the fastest growing and urbanizing communities in the country. The planning process was one of problem solving, innovation and creativity, and collaborative team planning. The Strategic Plan provides the vision, goals, objectives and action items that will shape the parks and recreation system for years to come. The PROS Plan gives planners and decision-makers the tools they need for an urbanizing county.
  • Jeffco Parks and Open Space, Jefferson County, Colorado-Elk Meadow Park Dog Off-leash Area. An informal dog-training ground that grew into a 107-acre dog off-leash area was at risk of being loved to death. A concerted effort by Jefferson County Open Space staff and stewardship-minded teens and volunteers resulted in the installation of 3.2 miles of designated trails, sustainable water crossings, and amenities for 2 and 4-legged visitors. This helped control erosion, trespassing, hazards and confusion for visitors. All of this was completed two years ahead of what was promised to the public. Community engagement was a key to the success of the project and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
  • Missouri State Parks-Trail Inventory Database and Trails of Missouri State Parks book. The database and book will provide better customer service, fulfill internal management needs and provide an outstanding trail guide, all of which is the result of collective staff ingenuity. An exhaustive and complete inventory resulted in the development of a groundbreaking database that contains information, images and maps of every trail within the system. This is available to and used by staff for a variety of planning, development and management purposes. The beautifully illustrated book responds to visitor demand for more trail information and maps.