Thank you to those who attended our Annual Awards & Sponsor Social along with our dedicated board members and volunteers. We celebrated our 63 Annual Sponsors and gave 5 Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to promoting and enhancing the parks, greenways, open spaces, active play and recreational opportunities within our community!


Riley Fields 

Riley Fields is a former employee of Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department, and is currently the Director of Community Relations for the Carolina Panthers. During his employment at the County, Riley was responsible for several important items involving kids’ athletics programs and facilities. Riley was responsible for working with the Carolina Panthers to get several NFL charities grants to build artificial surface football fields in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. He also started the “Sir Purr Bowl” in 2000 while working with the county, which involves competition to get to play a “demonstration football” game during one of the Panthers half times. The “Sir Purr Bowl” has been played at half time in a Panthers game for the past 23 years, and brought a new emphasis on youth football in both Carolinas. During his time with the Panthers, Riley has been involved in working with numerous nonprofit organizations, helping them to get grants.



Elaine Powell 

For the past 29 years, Elaine Powell has been actively engaged in the Charlotte community through volunteering in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools and serving on a number of councils, boards and commissions in Mecklenburg County, beginning on the Mecklenburg County Waste Management Advisory Board. Elaine served as the Chair of the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Commission (PRC), the Chair of Natural Resources Stewardship Advisory Council, and the Vice Chair of the North Park Region Advisory Council from 2010 until May 2018. Elaine believes that citizen engagement, active listening and collaboration are the best ways to make well-informed, healthy decisions for our community.




NC Wildlife Great Outdoors University

Great Outdoors University (GoU) is a conservation-based experiential education program created by the National Wildlife Federation and North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) to bring outdoor adventures to kids of all ages who have limited opportunities to explore the natural world.

GoU breaks down the existing barriers in the greater Charlotte region providing kids the chance to step into the magnificent outdoors and have fun learning in a living laboratory filled with inspiration and wonderful surprises. We have curriculum options aligned with the standards that bring science, technology, engineering and math to life igniting curiosity, excitement and awe in ways that encourage continued learning and environmental stewardship.

GoU takes a collaborative approach utilizing the strength of NCWF affiliate resources and forming alliances with community partners. This collaborative approach capitalizes on the existing strengths and resources in our community and augments these resources to provide a critical need to the greater Charlotte Region. All at no cost to the participants.

Kids learn the importance of conserving special places for wildlife and have the chance to gain new skills, build self-confidence, mentor with positive role models and experience teamwork and hands-on problem solving.

For many kids, a GoU experience is the first time they’ve had a chance to connect with the great outdoors – whether it’s exploring a lake by canoe, learning to fish, observing wildlife up close, romping through the woods or exploring streams.



First Ward Park

First Ward Park is the culmination of a joint partnership between Levine Properties, UNC Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte. The new 4-acre park is located between East 7th, 9th and Brevard Streets, just east of the light rail tracks.

Shadley Associates (with support from ColeJenest) won an invited national competition to design this entirely new 4.6 acre park located in downtown Charlotte. Well connected with Center City, the First Ward Neighborhood and the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the park attracts visitors from greater Charlotte and beyond. One of four major park spaces in the City, First Ward Park benefits from an existing on-site light rail station, and nearby amenities such as 7th Street Market, First Ward Elementary School, Charlotte LAB School, the UNC Charlotte Center City, and ImaginOn.





Since 1933, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has offered its customers high quality health insurance at a competitive price and has led the charge toward better health and more consumer-focused health care in our state. Blue Cross NC is a fully taxed, not-for-profit North Carolina company with major operations centers in Durham, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, and an office in Charlotte. We employ more than 4,700 North Carolinians1 and serve more than 3.89 million customers.

Blue Cross NC is committed to making the health care system in North Carolina better – but we know we can’t do it alone. That’s why we work with doctors, hospitals and others to bring our customers innovative solutions that simplify the health care system, improve efficiency and outcomes, and help rein in costs. Blue Cross NC employees work hard not only for our customers, but for the communities where they work and live. In 2015, Blue Cross NC employees contributed more than $832,700 in our annual employee giving campaign. Matching contributions from the company resulted in a total of $1.15 million invested in our communities.

A big congratulations to all of our 2018 Award Winners! 

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