Residents Value Recreation as Essential for a Healthy Life

The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received an annual report on the value residents place on the District’s programs and services that contribute to healthy lifestyles.

This is demonstrated by participation in recreational activities that promote fitness and wellness, and passive recreational pursuits, positive use of leisure time, awards and recognition, beautification, reforestation, conservation, green initiatives, and volunteerism, partnerships, donations, grants, and sponsorships.

According to Operations Director Laurie Anderson, “The Rockford Park District believes that recreation is vital to the health of the community and its residents.   We strive to meet the needs of our citizens providing programs, facilities and a safe outdoor environment that encourages people to be active.”

2016 Healthy Living Highlights

The District provides healthy lifestyle programs and cultural activities including relaxation, fitness, nutrition, museums, gardens, passive recreation, and social experiences that are highly attended.

  • 1,027,450 visitors utilized recreation and bike paths
  • 637,054 visitors enjoyed local museums such as Rockford Art Museum, Discovery Center Museum, Burpee Museum, Midway Village Museum, and Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum
  • 161,355 visitors enjoyed the outdoors at Sinnissippi riverfront and gardens
  • 86,3641 participated in “Books for Fun” at Magic Waters Waterpark
  • 8,309 visitors listened to live music and watched area talent perform at Live at Levings and Domingos en el Parque at Levings Park
  • 1,790 visitors participated in swim lessons
  • 1,271 visitors played pickleball
  • Physical activity was encouraged with programs such as tennis, Zumba, volleyball, basketball, yoga, and water safety programs
  • A variety of healthy menu options are offered at concessions areas, such as fruit cups and salmon salad

2016 Environmental Highlights

The District engages in environmentally responsible practices, and integrates environmental education into a variety of programs.  Achievements specific to 2016 include:

  • More than 300 dead and dying ash trees were removed district wide from park space and 250 trees were planted.  It is the goal of the District to replant trees within one year of an ash tree removal with a 2 to 1 ratio per the District’s Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan.
  • Created more “no mow areas” to include 62 acres were protected as a nature perserve buffer south of the Searle’s Prairie Nature Preserve.
  • Outdoor education/recreation programs were offered throughout the community, including the Levings Lakers Conservation Program. Other efforts included a recycling program for kids at Washington Park Community Center, Environmental Recreation Education staff providing outreach programs at schools, playground sites, and community centers, and opportunities were expanded with Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens

2016 Community Involvement Highlights

The Rockford Park District places a high priority on engaging residents in the continuous improvement of programs, facilities, and internal and external systems. 

  • In 2016, 39,918 volunteer hours were provided to the District
  • Major programs and facilities have an advisory committee to seek the feedback from citizens and professionals, enabling the Park District to provide high-quality services responsive to citizen requests
  • The District also gathers input by holding or attending neighborhood meetings, participating in community events and civic groups such as Transform Rockford, customer surveys, and through service requests entered into the Citizen Communication System (on and social media

2016 Financial Support Highlights

Rockford Park District Foundation Director Lori Berkes-Nelson says, “The mission of the Rockford Park District Foundation is to assist the Rockford Park District by securing philanthropic support on its behalf, and enhancing awareness of the District's benefits to the community. It’s humbling, and extremely rewarding, to see the financial support given, above and beyond tax resources, to the District.” 

  • Corporate sponsorships increased by 149% to $540,580 in cash, and by 34% to $300,858 in  in-kind gifts
  • Implementation of two naming rights partners began
  • Program grants awarded increased by 17%, from $91,091 to $106,752
  • Capital project grants were secured in 2016 totaling $2,057,400

The Rockford Park District Foundation was instrumental in securing funding for approved priority fundraising projects and programs supporting the achievement of District priorities, such as:

  • Foundation Board member annual giving (combined individual and corporate) raised $145,060
  • The Foundation holds 11 endowment funds totaling $2,320,041
  • Donor retention increased to 85% from 53% - average national rate is 43%
  • 250 new donors gave $562,708, an increase of 8% above 2015 giving


For the Rockford Park District to be the best urban park and recreation system in North America, as measured by national standards and the citizens we serve.


To 'help people enjoy life' by providing a quality park and recreation system.

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401 S. Main Street
Rockford, IL 61101

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