The National Association of State Park Directors today announced its annual award recipients for contributions and support of state parks and state park systems across the United States. “It is always great to recognize the amazing supporters that give of themselves to America’s State Parks,” commented Dominic Bravo, NASPD President. NASPD recognized the contributions of Martin MacDonald with a President’s Award. The award was presented Thursday at NASPD’s annual meeting at French Lick Resort, French Lick, Indiana. 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. His coordination with his company’s founder, John L. Morris, is especially apparent in the park system’s ability to provide our visitors with new ways to experience the Missouri outdoors. A recent example of MacDonald’s efforts is his integral partnership with the first ever Missouri Governor’s Capitol Campout and Outdoor Days at the Capitol.
These two events provided thousands of visitors opportunities to experience the thrill of kayaking, camping, target shooting and many other outdoor activities, all on the lawn of Missouri’s State Capitol. Organized by his staff in partnership with Missouri State Parks staff, the event provided visitors with the tools necessary to introduce new families to outdoor recreation, resulting in these families’ becoming interested in taking that next adventure on their own in a state park. MacDonald also founded the Outdoor Action Committee (OAKS), which is designed to engage a broad spectrum of outdoor agency leaders to get more children outdoors. From his efforts, time and resources, the committee developed a program called the Governor’s Children in Nature Challenge. Subsequently, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon proudly signed an Executive Order implementing the Children in Nature Challenge, calling on multiple state agencies to work together to create fun, healthy, educational ways to spend more time outdoors. This initiative is underway and will no doubt make a positive impact on the future of the state of Missouri.
In addition, Missouri State Parks recently developed the State Park Passport Program in celebration of the Centennial of its state’s park system. This program is designed to engage park visitors of all ages and encourage them to visit all 88 state parks and historic sites. When approached with a sponsorship opportunity to help make the Passport Program a success, Bass Pro Shops, with MacDonald’s help, is now the leading sponsor of the program. The first 1,000 visitors to all 88 state parks and historic sites will receive a very nice gift for the accomplishment, thanks to Martin’s being a champion for our cause. Martin MacDonald has made an extraordinary contribution to Missouri’s state parks. His determination and deep support for the parks has enabled the agency to further its mission and obtain goals that other state agencies may only imagine.
Having someone willing to stand up for outdoor recreation and outdoor heritage is a huge benefit to Missouri State Parks, and to the state as a whole. “America’s state parks and the people who visit them are the prime beneficiaries of the outstanding contributions from these organizations and individuals, such as Martin MacDonald,” 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 National Association of State Park Directors 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.