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  March 6, 2015  


Awards Committee Minimize

Northeast Region
Phil Bryce (NH)

Southeast Region
Elaine Walker (KY)

North-Central Region
Ron Olson (MI)

Central Region
Stuart Johnson (LA)

Northwest Region
Tim Wood (OR)

Southwest Region
Tommy Mutz (NM)




Links to Award Winners:







Other Past Award Winners 



Is there a person or organization you wish to nominate for a President's Award, Park History Award or Distinguished Service Award for 2013?  The NASPD awards are a great opportunity to recognize outstanding achievement by individuals and organizations that help preserve and enhance our state parks throughout the nation. The NASPD Awards and Recognition Program describes the process and timeline for submitting timely nominations.  Nominations for 2013 will be due on May 1.  Pass along the name of your nominee by downloading and completing the 2013 Nomination form (.doc).



2012 Awards


Recognizes an individual or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution at a state, regional or national  level, furthering a goal of a system of state parks. This year's award winners are:

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Protection. Stewardship. Growth. Sense of purpose. Longevity. These are the features that define a successful conservation group, one that any and every state park system should envy. The Iowa Natural Heritage
Foundation embodies those concepts as much today as it did 30-some years ago, when it began. This 6,500-member nonprofit organization has lobbied, persuaded and raised money to secure nearly 3,000 acres and 17 additions to the Iowa State Park system since 1979. Acquiring land for parks and conservation over a period of 30-plus years demonstrates a rare and laudable dedication of purpose. The expansion of Stone State Park, a Special Landscape Area designated by the National Park Service near Sioux City, is an exceptional example of the Foundation’s efforts. The Foundation negotiated land sales and donations, held funds in trust, purchased property and raised money to enable this special place to grow by nearly 40 percent. The unusual topography of the Loess Hills are home to a some of the largest remnants of prairie landscape in the state. The additions not only preserve that landscape, but protect critical wildlife habitat and cultural resources.

Friends of Audubon State Park
It is safe to say that John James Audubon State Park in Henderson Kentucky is an historical motherlode. It is steeped in American history of all kinds: art, architecture, the natural world and even a military past come together in the personal and professional history of John James Audubon. Its museum is internationally renowned, home to magnificent and rare Audubon collections, including the famous Tyler collection and the folio of the Birds of North America. Quality on that scale cannot be accomplished without friends, and they are whom we honor tonight. The achievements of the Friends of Audubon State Park stand out as truly singular. They span every possible component of a successful Friends Group: fundraising, direct repair and rehabilitation work, “hands on” historic preservation, managing and conducting events, negotiating land purchases, building community involvement and imparting stewardship ethics in all their many efforts. In 2011, six members of the FOA came together to purchase 649 new acres of wetlands adjacent to the park, effectively doubling the size of the natural space there. The group’s commitment to all-abilities access to that property is especially commendable.


Ellen Arnold, Friends of Upton State Forest

Anyone who works with volunteers knows that just one person can make or break an institution. A person with zeal, passion and energy can transcend the most difficult of circumstances and the direst of needs. By all accounts, Ellen Arnold is that person. As a founding member of the Friends of Upton State Forest in Massachusetts, Ellen came along at a difficult time in the world of park budgets. Bringing energy and enthusiasm to the task of forming a 501(c)(3) organization, Ellen and the Friends have transformed the visitor experience at Upton State Forest. Ellen led the way with fundraising, grant writing, special events and historical research, but that’s just part of the story. With a special penchant—some would say crusade— for the CCC era, Ellen has enriched countless lives by bringing the legacy of the CCC boys to the schoolchildren of Massachussets. Working with DNR interpretive staff, Ellen coordinates a day-long CCC reenactment adventure for large groups of (100-plus) third graders. The children spend an entire day talking to CCC alumni, interacting with interpretive staff dressed as CCC officers and visiting buildings both real and long gone. She makes it all come alive. Upton State Forest is a special place, and it is made better by the countless hours and boundless energy that Ellen Arnold brings to it.


Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division

In 2011 and 2012, Michigan State Parks and Recreation Areas partnered with Merrell, the Michigan-based clothing and footwear company, to create and bring introductory recreation programs to the public, free of charge. The resulting “Recreation 101” program is an excellent example of successful collaboration and partnership among many sectors of the recreation community. By 2012, the program had grown exponentially, with volunteer instructors welcoming people to the world of geocaching, fishing, hiking, birding, photography, hunting, and much more. In total, some 85 different types of events involving 50 businesses reached thousands of people. Bringing together many and disparate groups is not always easy, even when all share a goal. But the growth in the Rec 101 program over the past two years is proof positive that the collaborative formula worked.

Recognizes an individual, team, academic institution or organization that has displayed outstanding efforts in original research and presentation of state park history that results in a tangible work product.

Fort Miles Historical Association

It is hard to imagine a more daunting task than transforming a 500-foot underground bunker into a military museum. Determined to turn Battery 519 into a museum of the Cape’s extensive military history, the Fort Miles Historical Association in Delaware took on a project of cleanup, painting, rewiring, plumbing and general repair, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. They then raised extensive funds to help hire museum and interpretive planners, and helped acquire a federal grant for a geothermal HVAC system. Since forming in 2004, their hard work and devotion to the preservation and historical interpretation of Fort Miles at Cape Henlopen State Parkhas been nothing short of outstanding. Their work, together with Delaware State Parks, has launched this World War II and Cold War joint-service coast defense and research facility’s history into the public eye. The Association has literally saved a piece of history from the scrapheap. The group raised tens of thousands of dollars to save Gun # 371, a 16-inch naval rifle that had been mounted on the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered in World War II. The gun has been transported to Fort Miles for restoration and interpretation, and will serve as a memorial to the men and women who served in World War II. These efforts shine a spotlight on the military importance of coastal defenses, and on Fort Miles and Cape Henlopen State Park.


Dr. David Brauner, Professor of Archaeology, and the team at Oregon State University

Dr. David Brauner has spent more than 30 years literally unearthing history at a serene spot in the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon. Champoeg State Heritage Area, known as the “birthplace of Oregon,” is the site where 102 fur trappers, farmers and euro-American settlers gathered in 1843, voting 52-50 to form the first provisional government west of the Rockies, rejecting British law. In 1990, Dr. Brauner and his team used a cesium magnetometer to search out a homestead site known as the Newell cabin. Excavation revealed an intact hearth from an early structure. In subsequent years, the site yielded a 20’ X 20’ building built in classic French-Canadian style, with a 10-foot addition that featured more traditional American building techniques. The cabin dates to 1831, and is the earliest documented structure in the Pacific Northwest. Over the intervening years, artifacts from the site have included everyday household items such as pins, combs, smoking pipes, crystal glassware, fine English China, and some intriguing buttons traced to the War of 1812. The finds have rewritten local history, and have amplified our understanding of the era. Perhaps the most important contribution of this lifetime of field study is that the work was conducted as a field school for archaeology students. Public tours of the work have captured the imagination of thousands of people lucky enough to have seen it all unfold.



Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Trails

In July 2011, a severe storm ripped through St. Croix State Park. A deluge of rain, accompanied by winds of 60-100 mph, uprooted and snapped off trees across this 34,000 acre park. Almost all the trees in about a third of the park were lost. Seventy-four buildings were damaged or destroyed, 48 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearly 10,000 acres were severely affected. The rehabilitation work, both cultural and natural resource-based, was complex and urgent. The Division immediately created a multidisciplinary team of foresters, archeologists, natural resource planners and specialists. A year later, forest management plans have been launched, and nearly half the historic structures have been repaired by park staff, with plans and permits done for the remainder. The park is recovering, thanks to the teamwork, innovation and swift response of a group of professionals.

Virginia State Parks
Virginia Campground Association
Virginia Tourism

This partnership among Virginia State Parks, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Campground Association banded together with a shared goal of promoting the state’s fabulous natural resources. The result was a new campaign called Virginia Loves Campers, a successful cross promotion based on leadership and innovation.

Virginia State Parks AmeriCorps Interpretation Project

Faced with an economic downturn and a rise in park use, Virginia State Parks turned to AmeriCorps for help. A 2010 grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service enabled the parks to gain 28 new interpretive volunteers to work across the state, reaching thousands of visitors and shoring up a permanent staff stretched very thin. Their accomplishments far exceeded anyone’s expectations. The 28 AmeriCorps Interpreters for 2011 contributed 19,226 member volunteer hours and presented 2,216 programs to 91,367 visitors.



Stuart Johnson

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