The Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s continuing education offers something for all levels of experience within a broad range of roles in the field of parks and recreation. The platforms provided for continuing education range from webinars at your desk to multiday schools throughout the state. 

So, whether you decide to log in for one of our webinars or attend a half-week school, we want to effectively use our time together to enhance your understanding of a subject matter or introduce you to a method of doing something new that helps you in your position today and in the future. IPRA is committed to providing you with access to high quality and affordable professional development opportunities. Review our educational calendar and sign up today!

IPRA Core Education Offerings

Each year, IPRA co-hosts the Soaring to New Heights annual conference with the Illinois Association of Park Districts. It features over 150 educational sessions and workshops, and an exhibit hall where more than 300 exhibitors showcase their latest and greatest products and services.

The suggested calendar education curriculum track begins with the one-day Supervisor Symposium, programmed with topics for managers and supervisors newer to the field. The next offering, Professional Development School, is the longest standing educational and networking school offered by IPRA. Graduation from Professional Development School consists of the completion of a two-year curriculum; each year is a two and a half day intensified education curriculum, in a small student-focused networking atmosphere. The next opportunity is the application required Leadership Academy. LA provides an intensive six-month program that benefits all levels of experience for park and recreational professionals. Each level will focus on building great leaders through innovative and strategic sessions and speakers.

Additional continuing education includes the Skills Development Webinar Series; the iLearn group research and presentation program; subject focused one-day workshops and various certification programs. 

As the premier state conference for parks and recreation, forest preserves and conservation agencies in Illinois, the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights conference brings together more than 4,200 professionals and elected officials for three exciting days of quality educational programming, networking and professional development.

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The Leadership Academy meets one full day per month for five months (October – March, no program in January).  There will be a maximum of 25 participant slots available the Team Level and 25 participant slots for the Agency Level. Participants will be evaluated on a combination of their applications and resumes. The two levels the Leadership Academy curriculum offers include the various needs of professionals in our field.

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Professional Development School (PDS) is the longest-running educational and networking opportunity offered by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. Professional Development School provides park and recreation professionals the opportunity to comfortably network with individuals throughout the state as well as experience high-quality education in a small, student-focused atmosphere. 

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Through IPRA's seven section member
groups, various job specific education and workshops are offered throughout the year. Topics range from the areas of Administration & Finance, Communication & Marketing, Diversity, Facility Management, Parks & Natural Resources, Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation. 

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The Skills Development Webinar Series provides park district professionals with access to monthly professional development opportunities from the comfort of their home or office.  Attend every session live or access recordings on-demand.  Either way, you get the cutting edge-ucation you need at unbelievable low prices. 

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iLearn is a multi-faceted program which selected applicants complete a literature review on a hot topic, present the research's implications to the field of parks & recreation and are potentially published via the University of Illinois Graduate program.

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Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) - CPRP certification is the national standard for all parks and recreation professionals who want to be at the forefront of their profession. 

Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE)  -The CPRE establishes a national standard for managerial, administrative and executive parks and recreation professionals.  CPRE certification places you in the company of an elite group of parks and recreation managers and executives and connects you to the latest trends and information.

Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) - CPSIs are individuals certified to inspect playgrounds for safety hazards and to ensure compliance with national standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  The CPSI Course is a preparatory tool for the CPSI Certification Examination.

Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) - The AFO program provides the most comprehensive and up-to date training for pool operators and includes information on water chemistry, disinfection, mechanical systems, operations, healthy pools and safety.

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