Ron Merritt, director of the Minot Park District, was inducted into the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association (NDRPA) Hall of Fame on Sept. 14 during the 2022 NDRPA State Conference in Minot.
Induction into the NDRPA Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed on members. Twenty-seven individuals have been inducted since 1994, and two were inducted in 2022: Dick Gulman, former Valley City Park Board president and Merritt.
Merritt was awarded the honor for his successful record of accomplishment in the parks and recreation field in North Dakota and his active participation in the NDRPA.
In 1991, Ron earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from North Dakota State University. After serving Roosevelt Park Zoo for many years as a zookeeper and director, he took the position of executive director at Minot Park District in 2005.
During his career, he has assisted in many projects, including the completion of the Hoeven Baseball Complex, Roosevelt Pool and Bath House, Hammond Tennis Complex, the combination of the parks and recreation boards, multiple facility upgrades, flood recovery, greenway development, Magic City Discovery Center partnership and Outdoor Recreation Area Development.
Under his leadership the Minot Park District received the 1996 Golden Egg Award for the Penguin Exhibit and the 2009 NDRPA Golden Egg Award for Jack Hoeven Park. Merritt received the 2014 NDRPA Fellow Award – now known as the Distinguished Professional Award. He is also a certified park and recreation professional and attended NRPA’s Directors School in 2019 and 2022.
Merritt has served in several NDRPA roles, including Professional Development chair from 2007-2008, president of NDRPA in 2009-2010 and chair of the Legislative Committee from 2010 to 2015. He currently serves on the Revenue Committee.
During his tenure as president, the NDRPA led the effort to increase the concession bidding threshold for political subdivisions from $500 in estimated annual gross sales to more than $25,000 during the 2011 state legislative session. Work began in the 2009-2010 interim to secure support from the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, which ensured a well-vetted bill was introduced when the session began. Merritt was instrumental throughout the legislative process, testifying before the interim committee as well as during the session to ensure the bill passed without any significant opposition.
Merritt also provided support for hiring the association’s first full-time executive director and the completion of the Economic Contribution Study. He is a strong supporter of the association and encourages his staff to get involved and participate in NDRPA activities.
Previous Hall of Fame inductees from Minot were Ookie Hammond in 1998 and Mike Nelson in 2001.