Mercer County Park Commission wins record number of awards on programming, recreation, and design

The Mercer County Park Commission received five awards at the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association (NJRPA) Annual Awards Ceremony in Atlantic City on Tuesday, March 8. The Mercer County Wildlife Center, Howell Living History Farm, and Mercer County Stables received awards in programming, recreation, design, visual and cultural arts.

The Mercer County Wildlife Center received the Gregory A. Marshall Parks and Historic Resources Award for their pre-flight conditioning cage, a new enclosure to rehabilitate large raptors.

Howell Living History Farm received the Excellence in Educational and Interpretive Programming award for their “Share the Harvest” Program, which provided farm-fresh food and produce to Mercer County food shelters throughout the pandemic. 

From left, Deputy Director Joe Pizza, Senior Project Manager Jeremy McDermott, Superintendent of Parks Anthony Cucchi, County Stables Director Christine Cardinal, Executive Director Aaron T. Watson, Marketing and Community Outreach Director Wanda Lacy McNeill, Wildlife Center Director Diane Nickerson, Howell Living History Farm Director Pete Watson, and Superintendent of Operations Robert Doherty.

Mercer County Stables was honored with three awards, including the Daniel M. Gasalberti Excellence in Recreation Programming Award for their Horses and Youth (HAY) Program, a program designed for youth living in under resourced areas of Mercer County. HAY’s equine-based programming is educational and recreational. The Stables also received the Excellence in Visual and Cultural Arts Programming for their Juneteenth celebration featuring Black cowboys and women equestrians. The redesign of the facility, which added to its functionality and its visual appearance, earned the Stables the Excellence in Design award.

“The addition of new programming, events, and facility resources have opened a wide range of recreational and educational activities for the public,” said County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “These awards represent a collaborative effort to provide new opportunities to the community and attract new visitors, and we are so proud of the work of all our Park Commission employees under the visionary leadership of Executive Director Aaron T. Watson.” 

The (NJRPA) Annual Awards Ceremony took place at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in Atlantic City, NJ. Awards were accepted by Executive Director Watson, Deputy Director Joe Pizza, Superintendent of Parks Anthony Cucchi, Wildlife Center Director Diane Nickerson, Howell Living History Farm Director Pete Watson, County Stables Director Christine Cardinal, and Marketing and Community Outreach Director Wanda Lacy McNeill.

“I would like to recognize the work of our Commissioners, elected officials, our directors, and managers who made these programs and additions to our facilities possible,” said Executive Director Watson. “We strive to provide accessible programming and continue to build our offerings each year.”

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

Submitted by Mercer County

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