Congratulations to Chris Smith, Lead Park Ranger for Web and Media at the Anchorage Interagency Visitor Center and this years recipient of the Alaska Regions Freeman Tilden Award for Interpretation. Chris was the essential lynchpin in the development of an Interactive GIS Portal to Alaska’s Parks and Public Lands. This unique GIS portal is an expandable tool for both trip planning and interpretation. It engages visitors in the natural and cultural values of Alaska’s parks and public lands by allowing them to “drill down” into expanded levels of informational and interpretive content. It displays a zoom-able map of the entire state of Alaska with references available at significant locations for websites, webcams, multimedia, and numerous interpretive programs and products. Several geographic “tours” are included with interpretive stories using photos and multimedia providing inspiration and practical information that enable visitors to experience these parks as if they were there “in person.” Chris conceived of and promoted the idea for seven years and persisted in applying for funds to eventually make it a reality. A big shout out to Regan Sarwas, GIS and Parker Martyn, I&M for partnering on the project and without whom it wouldn't have been possible. This innovative kiosk was made available to the public in May 2012 at the Alaska Center in Anchorage and plans are underway to make it available on the internet soon.
The 2012 panel also recognizes the outstanding work of nominees Roy Wood of Katmai National Park and Preserve for the installation and operation of the “Explore.org” Bear-cam at Brooks Falls; Alex Lindeman of Denali National Park for creating Web Author Training Videos which are helping to Build a Nimble NPS Online presence, and Tim Rains, also of Denali National Park, for “Inspiring Connections with Denali through Music: the Denali Music Festival 2012.”
As the 2012 Alaska Region Freeman Tilden Award winner, Chris will be among seven regional award winners, one of whom will be selected by a national panel to be the recipient of the 31st National Freeman Tilden Award. This winner will be announced on November 15th during the National Association of Interpretation National Workshop in Hampton, Virginia, and will receive a sculpted portrait bust of Freeman Tilden and $4,000.