2010 Freeman Tilden Award

The chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation.

- Freeman Tilden

The Freeman Tilden Award is an annual award recognizing outstanding contributions to the public through interpretation by a National Park Service employee. The award was created in 1982 to stimulate and reward creative work by National Park Service employees that results in positive impacts upon the visiting public.

The National Park Service is proud to introduce the recipient of the 2010 Freeman Tilden Award:

John Kirkpatrick

John Kirkpatrick
Park Ranger
National Mall and Memorial Park

Congratulations to John Kirkpatrick of the National Mall and Memorial Parks for receiving the 2010 National Freeman Tilden Award.

Kirkpatrick was presented the national award for his leadership and inspiration in the development of The Lincoln Memorial Interactive Site.

Kirkpatrick was instrumental in conceiving the features and overall functionality of this web micro-site accessible from the main Lincoln Memorial webpage. He selected the Rangers featured in the reflections videos, crafted scripts for each Ranger using their language and speech styles while focusing their messages on the universal themes of equality and unity inherent to the Memorial.

The diversity of viewpoints and personal connections represented in the videos, allow visitors from nearly any background to find some degree of commonality in the stories. Kirkpatrick's project management skills and ability to inspire the contractors with the powerfully emotional nature of the scripts and content resulted in the National Park Service receiving 30% more video than was stipulated in the contract. For a person who has never been to the site the webpage is a powerful introduction that weaves history into the reflections and provides basic facts about the Memorial. The ability to zoom in on 20 different panoramic photographs of the Memorial creates a feeling of a "personal experience" for the viewer.

This site allows millions to visit and experience the Memorial who would not otherwise be able to. It also provides opportunities for the viewer to find their own connections, form their own viewpoints, and discover something of American history and contemplate the deeper ramifications of that history.


Freeman Tilden provided a philosophical basis for interpretation in his book Interpreting Our Heritage. Nominees for the Freeman Tilden award are judged for their creativity, originality, and positive contributions to enhancing the public's understanding of the National Park Service and the resources it protects.



The National Park Service applauds the accomplishments achieved by the 2010 award nominees:

Frank Barrows

Frank Barrows, Acting Chief of Visitor Services
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

Barrows established a partnership between the park's Youth Ambassador Program (YAP!) and 3rd Eye Unlimited, a local non-profit, to create a program for underserved teens with the goal of encouraging creative youth leaders who can transform their community through the arts, multimedia, and events. The "Yappers" created two rap songs about the park and are sharing their enthusiasm with audiences via Facebook, iTunes, YouTube, TV shows, and the 3rd Eye Hip Hop Festival.

Laura Hennig

Laura Henning, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services
Canaveral National Seashore

Henning created the Canaveral Kids Outdoors and On the Move program to challenge both the mind and body of local school children. This Youth Outdoors Program included a Run with the Rangers 5K Fun Run and a one-mile Interpretive Fun Run/Walk that incorporated physical exercise and a Junior Ranger program. The program is designed to give students and parents the opportunity to learn about significant resources, with the added benefit of healthy exercise at the seashore.

Ingrid Nixon

Ingrid Nixon, Chief of Interpretation
Denali National Park

Nixon worked with key park partners to create Ascension: Exploring the Art of Denali, an exhibit of artist-in-residence artwork at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum. The exhibit explored the idea that both artists and scientists learn from the landscape, thereby becoming better stewards of the land. A companion curriculum and transportation plan were developed so that all students in the Denali Borough School District were able to travel to Fairbanks to see the display.

Susan Teel

Susan Teel, Director of the Southern California Research Learning Center

Teel led the effort to create and model the Sea to Shining Sea (StSS)/Live Interactive Virtual Explorations (LIVE) technology. This inexpensive backpack system brings parks to remote audiences by allowing interpreters and scientists to easily move about in the field while broadcasting StSS/LIVE distance education programs via the internet. A video camera, headset and microphone allow the interpreter to interact with both the resource and the audience in real time.

Spirit Trickey

Spirit Trickey, Park Ranger
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Trickey established a program for students designed to develop a new generation of leaders and park stewards called the Youth Leadership Academy: The New Nine (YLA). The purpose of the YLA is to involve young leaders at the historic site in promoting volunteerism, nonviolence, youth empowerment, and stewardship. Through interactive workshops, leadership training, and meetings with influential guests, the students gain invaluable insights which they then share with park visitors and their communities.

Michelle Wheatley

Michelle Wheatley, Chief of Interpretation, Education and Visitor Services
Colorado National Monument

Wheatley envisioned and created the monument's first ever Junior Ranger Explorer Day Camp designed to reach underserved youth of the Grand Valley community. Partnering with the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department and the Mesa County Valley School District 51, this 8-week camp provided an opportunity for more than 700 underserved students from the Grand Valley community to form lasting memories and connections with a park that seemed impossibly distant just weeks before.