Say 'Hello' to Your 2019 Parks and Recreation Champions

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Parks and Recreation Champion Awards! Six honorees received accolades at the fourth annual event, which took place Thursday, July 11 at Heritage County Park.

For the first time ever, two champions were named at the award presentation: Carol Crafts and John Walsh. Crafts and Walsh also earned trophies for their work in Environmental Education. Bill Trok and Keith Burke won Park Ambassadorship trophies and Ronny Perry and Terry Burke-Eiserling won Building Community Awards. 

“Our winners personify the County’s motto, which is the noblest motive is the public good,” said County Parks Director Brian Albright. “They develop programs that balance preservation with progress; they forge new connections through recreation opportunities; and they lead activities that bring people to parks, supporting healthy, active lifestyles in the San Diego community.”

Live music plus a robust touch table with live birds of prey and reptiles entertained guests before and after the presentation of awards. Also on site were spokespeople for Live Well San Diego , San Diego County Libraries and easy2hike . Food was sponsored by the San Diego County Parks Society, and drinks were donated from Burgeon Beer Company and Bivouac Ciderworks.

Nominations for the 2019 Parks and Recreation Champion Awards program were accepted over 5 weeks in late spring. Five outside judges reviewed the nominations and assigned points to each based on a set of 10 criteria. 

About the winners:    

Carol Crafts (CHAMPION, winner in the Environmental Education category): A respected author and environmental advocate, Carol Crafts is a daily devotee to wildlife education and ambassadorship. A 20-year volunteer with Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, with 19 years of service at Sycamore Canyon-Goodan Ranch to boot, she currently serves as President of the Friends of Goodan Ranch. Through these entities, Project Wildlife and the Poway and Santee Historical Societies, her talks and tours on local flora and fauna engage park lovers of all ages.

John Walsh (CHAMPION, winner in the Environmental Education category): For the past 4 years, Volunteer Park Ranger John Walsh has been merging his love of astronomy with his dedication to outdoor education via the launch of the City of San Marcos Starwalk Program. This novel event series controls after-hours park use through carefully curated conversation and curriculum – tapping a niche audience and inspiring hundreds to appreciate natural, celestial phenomenon.   

Bill Trok (winner in the Park Ambassadorship category): In addition to serving as a pastor and chaplain, Bill Trok volunteers his time as a Board Member for Valley Center Parks and Recreation – chairing the Star Valley Park Project which aims to transition 44 acres of dirt into a robust play space for residents to enjoy. His innovative approach to change through collaboration and celebration has earned him accolades from residents and elected officials, alike.

Keith Burke (winner in the Park Ambassadorship category): A champion for Chollas Lake Park/Oak Park, Keith Burke is 100-percent dedicated to revitalizing the western portion of this community hotspot – battling neglect, trash, loitering and vegetation overgrowth with grace, and working tirelessly to restore the land to its natural state. His relentless drive, clever resource allocations and ability to action change boost recreation opportunity and wildlife sustainability.  

Ronny Perry (winner in the Building Community category): An Optimist Club volunteer stationed at Provence House near Rohr Park, Ronny Perry oversees the maintenance, customer communications and event management duties for this popular, revenue-generating facility. Her timeliness, attention to detail, willingness get dirty, and commitment to going the extra mile for her clients are evident in venue reviews – tasks she tackles on top of her full-time job.   

Terry Burke-Eiserling (winner in the Building Community category): Terry Burke-Eiserling is Co-chair and Secretary of the Lakeside Skate Park Committee. She lobbied and fundraised for the park, established the Skatepark Foundation, and helped open it for all to enjoy. Her faith in Lakeside’s land and people carries into her work with the Lakeside Library, Women’s Club, Chamber of Commerce and Collaborative – supporting a stronger, safer, more opportunistic way of life.

Parks and Recreation Champion Awards take place once a year, with an event in July in honor of National Parks and Recreation Month. Learn more at

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