Each year nearly 300,000 volunteers across the National Park Service (NPS) donate more than 6.5 million hours of service, for a value of more than $185 million. Through their extraordinary work and dedication, these volunteers make an exceptional contribution to their parks and communities.
The Hartzog awards are given annually to recognize the exemplary contributions NPS volunteers make to their park and to their community. George B. Hartzog, Jr. served as the Director of the National Park Service and created the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program in 1970. In retirement, he and his wife, Helen, established a fund to support the program and honor the efforts of volunteers.
We are pleased to congratulate the national recipients of the 2020 George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service. These national award recipients’ contributions during this most difficult past year embody the spirit of service, engagement, and stewardship present throughout our national parks.
Check out the video celebration of this year's Hartzog Award recipients via our partners at the National Park Foundation!
This award celebrates outstanding volunteer service performed by an individual in fiscal year 2020.
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Tom and Karen Hartley at Fort Frederica National Monument were awarded the Individual Award of the 2020 George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service for developing new standard operating procedures, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom and Karen Hartley, Fort Frederica National Monument
Tom and Karen Hartley developed new standard operating procedures for living history programming at Fort Frederica National Monument.Tom and Karen Hartley built a 18th century bake oven for visitor programming and trained staff in its use, initiated visitor center protocols for COVID, created and marked 1.5 miles of nature trails for visitors to safely social distance and providing access to areas of the park previously unused, produced a self guided nature walk with signage and brochure along existing trails, and developed video and social media content to maintain interpretative outreach during the pandemic shutdown. They assisted with the development and hosting of an African American festival that focused on the life of Robert S. Abbott and the discovery of an unmarked cemetery containing Abbotts’s father and two aunts. They were willing to safely remain at the park during the COVID-19 response past their original departure date to assist with new protocols and operations, training COVID-19 hire employees, and making sure the visitors were able to experience their National Parks.
This award celebrates outstanding service performed by a volunteer under 18 years of age, in fiscal year 2020.
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Sita Antel at Cabrillo National Monument was awarded the 2020 Youth Award George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for her creativity in the 19th Amendment centennial commemoration at the park.
Sita Antel, Cabrillo National Monument
In August 2020, Cabrillo National Monument hosted evening special events and an outdoor exhibit to honor the centennial of the 19th Amendment. For four days, the park illuminated the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in purple and gold (the colors of the women’s suffrage movement), offered interactive pop-up stations, and displayed a socially distanced slideshow of prominent figures in the women’s and human rights movements. Sita created a "picket garden" of replicas of real protest signs held by suffragists during the first protest in front of the White House. The outdoor exhibit highlighting early women’s suffrage history through the continued fight for voting for all was displayed during this event week. Volunteer Sita Antel was instrumental in preparing the outdoor exhibit in partnership with CABR staff and staff from the Women's Museum of California, which was displayed on A-frames along the sidewalk leading up to the lighthouse and the picket garden. Sita researched history on the women’s suffrage movement, prepared exhibit texts, created original artwork, assisted with setting up the exhibit for the public, coordinated and communicated on all work with the event lead park ranger, and volunteered at the evening events.
This award celebrates the fiscal year 2020 accomplishments of an outstanding organized group of volunteers.
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The Ice Age Trail Alliance has involved thousands of volunteers over the last 22 years caring from more than 1,000 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Their past and continuing legacy of stewardship is being celebrated with a George and Helen Hartzog Award for volunteering excellence.
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail
The Ice Age Trial Alliance’s volunteer work predates the National Park Service presence in this area by 22 years. Along the journey in joining the national trails system, the Alliance and its thousands-strong volunteer workforce have been strong innovators in trail construction, tireless protectors of resources, vivid storytellers of Wisconsin’s nationally significant geologic history, and true champions in public engagement. Ice Age National Scenic Trail itself spans more than 1,000 miles, all cared for by the devoted work of volunteers. Notably in the last year, much of the magnitude of work befalling the Alliance was responding to the pandemic in innovative ways to ensure that every mile of trail had been hiked and assessed, downed trees were cleared for mowing operations, and large construction efforts were cued up for the upcoming seasons.
Youth Group Award
This award celebrates the outstanding 2020 contributions of an organized group of volunteers under 18 years of age.
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The Digital Youth Corps at Fort Stanwix National Monument lent their expertise in to help the park create virtual content. Their creativity and commitment keeping people connected during the COVID-19 pandemic is being applauded with a George and Helen Hartzog Award for excellence in volunteerism.
Digital Youth Corps, Fort Stanwix National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument's Digital Youth Corps greatly assisted the park by developing virtual content and products needed to interpret park resources and stories during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit, all work related to in-person youth engagement projects ceased for the safety of all. The kids participating in this project were able to pivot to online trainings and meetings over the course of the summer, working together to create and develop virtual content on a variety of platforms so that visitors could experience the park at home. A portion of this content focused on increasing the park in promoting diversity, equity through the inclusion of women in the Continental Army. Another portion focused on virtual education opportunities, as many of the students who would normally visit on fieldtrips were now digi-learning at home.
This award celebrates an outstanding 2020 volunteer program.
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Santa Monica Monica National Recreation Area, Cabrillo National Monument, and Channel Islands National Seashore teamed up with the Volunteer Virtual Education Initiative, which provided virtual ways for visitors around the world to stay connected with the parks.
Volunteer Virtual Education Initiative Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, Cabrillo National Monument and Channel Islands National Park
During all the COVID-19 uncertainty, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Channel Islands National Park, and Cabrillo National Monument pooled resources and designed virtual educational programs for volunteers from all three parks to keep the volunteers learning about their park as well as each other’s park sites. With COVID, many parks shut down their Volunteer programs to keep people safe. This left many volunteers feeling uncertain about their role in the parks and the future. Two programs were offered each week from April – November, and then with the holidays dropped down to one program a week. Through this program, volunteers have developed a real connection to volunteers from other parks. Many have commented on how much they enjoy the speakers and participating in the series. These one-hour programs have included park science and park partner research, history of the sites, Native American Culture programs, African American history, trail etiquette, local sites of interest, educational programming, general park overview and volunteer programs from many parks from inside and outside of CA, night sky programs, and health and wellness. Not only are the volunteers attending and learning about the resources and different park sites, but a team of them have also helped provide the park partner website for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Enduring Service Award
This "lifetime achievement" volunteer award celebrates the contributions of an individual volunteer over many years of service.
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Jerry and Jeanette Mills have enriched Lake Clark National Park & Preserve with their services for more than a quarter century! Their dedication is being honored with a George and Helen Hartzog Award recognizing the long term commitment they had to the park.
Jerry and Jeanette Mills, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Jerry and Jeanette Mills have staffed a remote ranger station with no services, no utilities and no indoor plumbing full time/year-round for a quarter of a century within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The Mills are an integral part of every park program area and are a part of the glue that holds the park team together. They seek to be part of the supportive framework upon which excellence is built throughout the park operation – media, visitor information, field research, search and rescue, maintenance, cultural resources, safety and more. Demonstrated through the number of staff who wanted to sign the letter of support, their knowledge, skill, and commitment to LACL visitors and staff has been a vital part of nearly every project conducted in the northern half of a 4-million-acre park and preserve.