May 16–19, 2021
Cincinnati, Ohio

Great Parks looks forward to hosting the 2021 Special Park District Forum, to be held May 16-19, 2021 (re-scheduled from May 2020 due to COVID-19). We continue to thank Metroparks and Nature and Lake County Forest Preserves for the flexibility on their host dates.

The 2021 Special Park District Forum is presented by MKSK.

Welcome to Great Parks of Hamilton County! We are excited to be hosting the Special Park District Forum 2021 and to have you experience over 17,600 acres of parkland that crowns the Queen City. During your stay, you will learn our history, visit unique park areas and facilities, observe our day-to-day operations and experience fun programs and activities. We look forward to your visit!

Upcoming Events

  • About

    Great Parks of Hamilton County participates in a network of Special Park Districts, which includes distinctive park districts from across the United States. In May of 2021, Great Parks will host the Special Park District Forum in Cincinnati, welcoming nearly 100 park professionals from across the county to our region.

    While the content of this Forum is designed specifically for park district professionals, there are some opportunities for our larger community to engage with attendees. If your company or organization seeks partnership/sponsorship opportunities that allow visibility with an audience of high level park executives, please contact Julie Bernzott, Director of Corporate Relations, at email.

    For other questions about the Forum, please contact Dave Bruce, Risk Manager, via email.

  • Welcome

    Hello from the Midwest!

    Great Parks of Hamilton County is honored to host the 2021 Special Park District Forum and is ready to welcome you to the greater Cincinnati region. Since its founding in 1930, Great Parks has established one of the state’s largest and most diverse inventories of parks, nature preserves and conservation areas. Great Parks currently manages more than 17,600 acres of green space, including 25 miles of river frontage along ecologically important and recreationally valuable riparian corridors.

    Your time at Great Parks will comprise of visits to some of our 21 parks and nature preserves to experience our programs and amenities, which include 78 miles of trails. We will also spend some time behind the scenes visiting operation centers and seeing in-progress construction projects. With 83% of our land preserved as undeveloped natural areas, we will explore and connect with diverse native wildlife and vegetative habitats in some of our distinctive conservation areas.

    We look forward to seeing you May 16-19, 2021! Plan to come early or stay late to connect with nature in our parks, or to connect with the heritage, culture and personality of Greater Cincinnati.

    Best Regards,

    Todd Palmeter
    Chief Executive Officer
    Great Parks of Hamilton County

  • Sponsors

    Presenting Sponsor

    Lunch Sponsor

    KZF Design

  • Itinerary

    Please join us at the 2021 Special Park District forum hosted by Great Parks of Hamilton County! Your stay with us will include three days of experiences, learning and networking as you visit parks, preserves and facilities in our three park district regions.

    Those who choose to arrive on May 16 will kick things off with a fun evening of networking at the hotel.

    Each day will include full breakfast, lunch and dinner with the exception of May 19, in which attendees can enjoy dinner downtown on their own.

    Day One

    Your first day will be an exploration of our West Region including a visit to our native seed nursery at Miami Whitewater Forest where we cultivate native plants for land management and restoration projects. Also in Miami Whitewater Forest, you will experience a wagon ride through various native habitats then explore recreation amenities at the harbor. The day will include a driving tour of the Whitewater River Corridor to hear about riparian corridor protection and a visit to Shawnee Lookout, where you will enjoy interactive cultural and historical programs including an experiential hike to a Native American fort. The evening will be highlighted by dinner and awards with The National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO).

    Day Two

    On day two of our journey, you will experience the East Region starting with Nature Center at The Summit, a new public-private partnership that is connecting Great Parks with the urban neighborhoods of Cincinnati. Other stops include our oldest park, Sharon Woods, to explore spectacular geological landscapes along a gorge trail, and Lake Isabella, with new primitive camping that has access to a national scenic river and fishing lake. Along the Little Miami River Corridor, you will have the opportunity to choose fun activities such as pedaling, paddling, golf or exploration of a nature preserve. The day would not be complete without a walk on our newest shared-use trail to visit a local brewery. Dinner will be on your own with lots of great options in downtown Cincinnati, including the historic Over the Rhine district.

    Day Three

    Day three will take us to the Central Region with a hands-on experience at Parky’s Farm in Winton Woods and optional opportunities of adventure-based team building activities, touring a campground, horseback riding or a nature hike. Part of the day will be spent at Glenwood Gardens, which features discovery and programming in our children’s garden and experiencing unique habitats along the park’s trails. The final day will wrap up with a celebration dinner and ceremony for the 2021 host.

    A final itinerary and schedule will be provided as we get closer to the event, so be sure to check back for more details!

  • Travel & Accommodations


    Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
    35 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Oh 45202-2899
    Tel: 513-421-9100, Fax: 513-421-4291
    Reservations: 1-800-HILTONS or online, use group code: GPH

    Hotel check in is 4 p.m. and check out is 11 a.m.

    *Reservations are being accepted now through April 16, 2021

    The Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza is located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati at the corner of Fifth and Race Streets. It is easily accessible from Interstates I-71 and I-75. The hotel’s luggage, valet and self-parking options are on the left side of Race Street between Fifth and Fourth Streets. Please use 418 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 for your GPS destination (please note: this is not the hotel’s mailing address).


    Directions - From Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport to Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza: Take I-275 East to I-75 North. Take 5th Street Exit and go 3 blocks east to Race. To park, turn right on Race. Luggage drop off on left. Valet & self-parking just past doorman on left. Valet under green arrow & self-parking in Mabley Garage.

    Travel options between airport and hotel

    TypeTypical Minimum Charge
    Super Shuttle
    Rental Car


    Stay updated with the local forecast.

  • NACPRO Awards

    The presentation of awards will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio during the Special Park District Forum, on May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Hotel.

    For more information: Brenda Adams-Weyant at (814) 927-8212 or email

  • Future Hosts

    • 2022: Metro Parks & Nature (Oregon)
    • 2023: Lake County Forest Preserves
    • 2024: Three Rivers Park District
    • 2025: Oakland County Parks
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