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Lake County Forest Preserves Earns National Award

July 3, 2023 11:19 AM
Mike Tully

A leader at the Lake County Forest Preserves earned a national award for his dedication to conservation and recreation. Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully recently received the Lifetime Professional Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO).

NACPRO is comprised of 128 park and special recreation districts from across the country, including the Lake County Forest Preserves. The association issued the award during the Special Park Districts Forum, an annual event that was hosted by the Forest Preserves in mid-June. 

"Mike Tully contributed to creating a culture of excellence in public safety and amenities in the Lake County Forest Preserve District over more than 30 years of service," said a presenter during a dinner ceremony at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville.

"Because of Mike's work, the public has a deep appreciation and trust for the District," said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves.  "Through regular surveys, Lake County residents consistently rank the District highly for overall cleanliness, maintenance and upkeep. In a 2022 survey of Lake County residents, about 90% of respondents stated that they are somewhat or completely satisfied with their experience in our 64 preserves, 31,000 acres and 209 miles of local and regional trails."

Tully, who is retiring at the end of July, has led or co-led major initiatives, such as serving as liaison to the Youth Conservation Corps program, which first drew him to the Forest Preserves. "He has demonstrated a commitment to helping young people–particularly diverse groups–gain experience and exposure in the fields of conservation, parks and recreation," judges said of his award.

Tully said he was honored to receive the prestigious award during the four-day forum held here in Lake County. Over the years, the forum has been hosted by premier open space facilities, parks and recreation agencies and forest preserves throughout the United States and Canada. This year's event theme, "Charting the Waters," emphasized the importance of both reconnecting with people and connecting with the land during the challenging years in a pandemic. The theme reflected this unique moment in time, emphasized the challenges agencies like the Forest Preserves overcame to remain operational, and highlighted local community support during a global crisis. 

"We are thrilled with the positive feedback we received during the forum that included providing information about master planning, museum programming, boat excursions, tours of forest preserves featuring cutting-edge restoration projects and more," Tully said. About 125 participants traveled from the U.S. and Canada to attend the event. "It was a fantastic week," said Darrell Penner from Vancouver, Canada. "It's interesting to see how other organizations run their parks and policies. It's nice to have conversations with leaders of other agencies." 

"The hospitality of the staff here has been overwhelming," said Susan Mong of Kansas. "I'm energized to go back and share this information with my agency." 

Media contact: Mike Tully, Chief Operations Officer,, 847-968-3415