“It takes vision, leadership, resources and unrelenting effort to care for our state parks,” stated Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri, who provided the keynote address at NASPD’s annual meeting Thursday at French Lick Resort, French Lick, Indiana. “At the end of the day, it is well worth the investment,” he continued. “America’s parks and forests, wildlife and waters, historic sites and monuments, are unique assets – opportunities to improve our health, our economy, our environment and our quality of life.”
NASPD recognized the contributions of six organizations and individuals Thursday. They were:
- Priscilla E. Geigis, the director of MassParks in the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), received the Distinguished Service Award for her long-term, sustained record of professional accomplishment in the field of parks and recreation. Ms. Geigis’ has been dedicated to efforts to get kids – and kids at heart – connected to the great outdoors, which fosters a healthy lifestyle and promotes a shared stewardship of resources. Read more >>
- The Arkansas Naturalist Organization was recognized with a President’s Award for a state-wide organization. The organization was honored for its incredible contributions to the State Parks of Arkansas through its ongoing volunteer activities. Since its inception in 2007, this organization of approximately 400 members state-wide has worked tirelessly to keep Arkansas in its natural state. Read more >>
- Michigan Cares for Tourism received a President’s Award for a statewide organization. The 100 percent volunteer, 100 percent give-back partnership was created by Patty Janes, PhD, a professor at Grand Valley State University, and forged between Michigan tourism organizations Travel Michigan (the Pure Michigan brand manager), Indian Trails, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Read more >>
- The Friends of Darling State Park was recognized with a President’s Award for a local organization. The Friends of Lake Darling State Park in SE Iowa State Park formed their non-profit group of volunteers in 2001 with their mission statement “Make the Great Park of Lake Darling Extraordinary.” Beginning with small work projects at the park, such as shingling roofs, picking up litter and cleaning grills, they have increased their numbers and projects to carry out the mission of preventing the deterioration of the lake and park facilities. Read more >>
- Martin MacDonald of Missouri received a President’s Award for his work with the Missouri state parks system. MacDonald, the director of Conservation for America’s leading outdoor retailer, Bass Pro Shops, has served as the company liaison to Missouri State Parks. His deep commitment to promoting outdoor recreation, especially to getting more children outdoors and away from electronics, has established a partnership between the Missouri park system and Bass Pro Shops that has a tremendous impact on visitors to the state. Read more >>
- Tom Earnhardt of North Carolina received the 2016 Ney Landrum Park History Award. Earnhardt was honored for his commitment, skills and determination in becoming a primary historian of North Carolina’s state parks and the natural resources they protect. As producer, director, writer, narrator, videographer and benefactor, he developed an hour-long documentary, Saving the Best: North Carolina State Parks at 100, which coincided with the state’s 100th anniversary in 2016. Read more >>
“It is always great to recognize the amazing supporters that give of themselves to America’s State Parks,” commented Dominic Bravo, NASPD President.
“America’s state parks and the people who visit them are the prime beneficiaries of the outstanding contributions from these organizations and individuals,” Lewis Ledford, NASPD executive director, said. “Taking just a few moments to recognize and thank them for their efforts is the least we can do when evaluating all they have done to improve the quality of life and recreational opportunities in their communities.”
The mission of the Association is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy. Collectively, America’s State Parks include more than 10,250 areas encompassing over 18.3 million acres, and received 760 million visitors in 2015.