The Mercer County Park Commission received five awards at the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association’s (NJRPA) annual awards ceremony. The Mercer County Wildlife Center, Howell Living History Farm and the Mercer County Stables have received awards in programming, leisure, design, fine and cultural arts.

The Mercer County Wildlife Center received the Gregory A. Marshall Prize in Parks and Historical Resources for pre-flight cage, a new enclosure for the rehabilitation of large predators.

Howell Living History Farm received an award for outstanding educational and interpretive programming for the “Share the Harvest” program, which provided fresh food and produce from farms to Mercer County food shelters throughout the pandemic.

The Mercer County Stable has been honored with three awards, including the Daniel M. Gasalberty Award for Outstanding Position in Leisure Programming for their Horse and Youth Program (HAY), a program designed for youth living in Mercer County resources. HAY programs based on horses are educational and entertaining.

The Stables also received an award for outstanding visual and cultural arts programming for its Juneteenth celebration featuring black cowboys and women riders.

The redesign of the facility, which improved its functionality and appearance, brought the stables the “Outstanding Design” award.

“The addition of new programs, activities and resource facilities has opened up a wide range of entertainment and educational activities to the public,” County Executive Brian M. Hughes said in a statement. “These awards are a collaborative effort to provide new opportunities for the community and attract new visitors, and we are so proud of the work of all of our Park Commission staff under the foresighted leadership of Executive Director Aaron T. Watson.”

The NJRPA annual awards ceremony took place at Harrah’s Waterfront Convention Center in Atlantic City on March 8th. The awards were hosted by Watson, Deputy Director Joe Pizza, Parks Manager Anthony Cookie, Wildlife Center Director Diane Nickerson, Howell Living History Farm Director Pete Watson, County Stable Director Christine Cardinal and Wanda Director of Marketing and Community Lacey McNeill.

“I would like to note the work of our authorized, elected officials, our directors and managers who have made these programs and additions possible at our facilities,” Watson said in a statement. “We strive to provide affordable programming and continue to build our offerings every year.”

The NJRPA represents more than 600 public and private parks, recreation and health professionals and more than eight million citizens nationwide. During the 47th Annual Conference, the Park Commission received five of the 24 awards.

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