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Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson wins National Freeman Tilden Award

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Date: November 23, 2009

Highest Award in Interpretation Presented to Ranger Johnson

Shelton Johnson, Interpretive Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park has been selected as a recipient of the 2009 Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation.  Johnson received the award Thursday, November 19, at the National Association of Interpretation conference in Hartford, Connecticut.  This is the highest award given by the National Park Service for excellence in interpretation.  Johnson was one of the seven finalists from regions throughout the country competing for the national award. 

Johnson was cited for his extensive collaboration with Ken Burns during the filming of the landmark documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  Ranger Johnson appeared in the film extensively reflecting on his experiences as a National Park Ranger.  Additionally, he worked on a collaborative project telling the previously untold stories of diverse peoples in national parks.  These messages are reaching far beyond Yosemite National Park and have facilitated lasting connections between African Americans and their national parks. 

“We are extremely proud of Shelton and couldn’t be happier that he has been recognized by receiving this award.  It is even more meaningful that this award was given by his peers.  Shelton’s work here in Yosemite and on the Ken Burns film will reach millions of people for generations to come,” said Tom Medema, Acting Chief of Interpretation and Education at Yosemite National Park.

Shelton Johnson has worked for the National Park Service for over 20 years.  Prior to working in Yosemite National Park, Johnson worked in Yellowstone National Park, Great Basin National Park, and the National Mall in Washington D.C. 

Johnson was selected by a panel of interpretive experts from around the country.  As the recipient of the 28th annual National Freeman Tilden Award, Johnson received a sculpted portrait bust of Freeman Tilden and $4,000.

Did You Know?

Low intensity fire in Yosemite

Natural fires in Yosemite are often no more than a single burning snag (standing dead tree) or a slow moving, low intensity fire that cleans underbrush from the forest floor. These fires prevent unwanted fires by removing accumulating forest debris that can fuel a larger fire in hot, dry conditions.