Recent Recipients of the American Park Experience Award

Secretary Ken Salazar Celebrated for Expanding the American Park Experience (2010)


“In my job, I always say the most inspiring thing I get to do is work with young people,” remarked Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at an event in his honor at DAR’s O’Byrne Gallery where he was celebrated by federal officials, corporate stakeholders, environmentalists and school administrators.

The Secretary was there to accept NPT’s second American Park Experience Award – a tribute reserved for those who have made outstanding contributions to enhance the awareness and appreciation of our nation’s parks, wildlife refuges, and historic landmarks (the first co-recipients were Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan). The Secretary was tapped for the award because of his lengthy history of land preservation, in creating Sand Dunes National Park and conserving the South Platte River Basin, pursuing full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, along with spearheading the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and Listening Sessions, and creating the Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors. But through his remarks, Secretary Salazar focused on the urgency of making the parks a vital fixture in the lives of the next generation.

Standing alongside Secretary Salazar at the podium were children who participate in NPT’s Buddy Bison school program from Washington Latin and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter Schools and the Bullis School. These students spent a few minutes prior to the ceremony sharing with the Secretary the many ways the Buddy Bison program has expanded their knowledge of public lands and inspired a thirst for conservation. As part of the Secretary’s award presentation, they then joined together in an inaugural performance of “Get Out to the Great Outdoors,” the title tune from the new Buddy Bison musical! The children’s words echoed the Secretary’s call to connect youth with our public lands.

NPT’s Board of Directors unanimously selected the Secretary to receive the Award for his work spearheading the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which will help reshape the nation’s conservation policies and for his work to create Youth in Natural Resources Programs. NPT also applauds his initiatives at the Department of Interior to build a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps to engage, educate and employ young people from all backgrounds to explore, connect with and preserve our country’s unique natural and cultural heritage.

NPT also praised his lifetime commitment to protect the nation’s public lands. This is exemplified by his past support for the creation of Great Sand Dunes National Park, by his work in the South Platte River Basin, and by his current work at the Department of the Interior to achieve full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to expand protection of our treasured landscapes.

“The Secretary’s passion to engage youth with the outdoors and in conservation, especially those who are underserved, is an inspiration for our Youth to Parks programs and for the many students, teachers, and families who participate in the Trust’s youth programs, including our Where’s Buddy Bison Been?® Program,” says William Brownell, NPT Chairman of the Board.

The American Park Experience Award was established in 2009 to recognize an individual or group that has made outstanding contributions to enhance the awareness and appreciation of our nation’s parks, wildlife refuges, and historic landmarks. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan were the first co-recipients of this award. The Secretary accepted the Award at a reception in Washington, D.C. in the winter of 2010.

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