2014 Freeman Tilden Award Recipients

The Freeman Tilden Award recognizes creative and exemplary work that enhances the visitor experience. It is the highest award given in the National Park Service for excellence in interpretation. A national recipient is chosen from the seven regional recipients.

Congratulations to the 2014 Freeman Tilden Award recipients!

National Recipient

Kelley VandenBerg and Melissa Senac
Kelley VandenBerg and Melissa Senac

NPS Photo

Alaska Region

Kelly VandenBerg, Interpreter
Melissa Senac, Bio Tech
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Alaska

After death of Snow, a popular humpback whale who frequented the waters of the park, VandenBerg and Senac kept the whale's spirit alive through exhibits that feature the its skeleton and the skeleton of a juvenile orca whale. They also involved the Gustavus community, especially school children, in the projects. Students helped clean, prepare, and assemble the two skeletons. Earlier this year, both whale skeletons were unveiled during ceremonies that included multiple speakers, youth activities, educational carnivals, and special Tlingit presentations.

VandenBerg and Senac also produced social media posts and online resources for the project including project blogs, videos, time lines, photo galleries, and teacher curriculum. This year, more than 500 students and 40 teachers took part in 33 on-site educational programs. Due to the skill and creativity of VandenBerg and Senac, both whales will long continue to provide visitors, both in-person and online, with a peek into the life of these magnificent species and their physiology, traits, and challenges.

Regional Recipients

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor

NPS photo

Intermountain Region

Elizabeth Taylor, Education Program Manager
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, & Wyoming

Beth Taylor is being recognized for her work in fostering a new generation of park advocates by revitalizing and expanding three youth education programs for Yellowstone National Park. The three significant contributions were: producing a new 28-page Junior Ranger booklet and 3 patches that serve 30,000 youth annually and generate $90,000 in revenues; connecting Native Americans to their ancestral lands by engaging 6,600 underserved youth and families; and connecting 17,500 students through real-time distance learning programs.

Julie Johndreau
Julie Johndreau

NPS Photos

Midwest Region

Julie Johndreau, Education Specialist
Badlands National Park, North Dekota

Through Julie Johndreau’s efforts and inspiration, the park has a deeper connection with the Lakota culture and provides a means for native people to convey their stories and connections to the park and its resources. This project was conceived to help build a future staff of the first tribal national park of its kind from the South Unit of Badlands National Park on Pine Ridge Reservation by forging an ongoing relationship between the park and tribal youth.

Adam Gresek
Adam Gresek

NPS Photo

National Capital Region

Adam Gresek, Park Ranger
Fort Washington Park, Maryland

Written by Adam Gresek, the theatrical rendition of the trial of Captain Samuel Dyson played to a packed room. The enlisted barracks in the historic fort were established as a courtroom, with magistrate, key historical figures to the story and a skilled interpreter. This participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to take an active role in the storytelling, has taken learning and appreciating history to a whole new level.

Maryann Zujewski
Maryann Zujewski

NPS Photo

Northeast Region

Maryann Zujewski, Education Specialist
Salem Maritime National Historic Site / Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Massachusetts

Fawn’s leadership and approach to education was a catalyst in keeping the Columbia Crest A-STEM Academy open and becoming a STEM school. Through a robust partnership with the NPS, the school was able to meet its educational objectives while implementing engaging studentcentered programs.

Nancy Caplan
Nancy Caplan

NPS Photo

Pacific West Region

Nancy Caplan, Education Lead
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

In 2014 Golden Gate was selected to host the 8th annual BioBlitz, an ongoing partnership between the National Park Service and National Geographic. Over 2,700 students joined 320 scientists and thousands of naturalists in conducting a comprehensive inventory of park species in the largest U.S. urban park. As the Education Director for BioBlitz, Nancy Caplan redefined inclusion, relevancy, and active engagement for K-12 education program. She created multiple ways for educators and students of color to be engaged.

Marjorie Thomas
Marjorie Thomas

NPS photo

Southeast Region

Marjorie Thomas, Education Coordinator
Chattahoochee River National Recreation, Georgia

Marjorie Thomas is instrumental in her visionary creation of the Homestretch Internship Program, which is a month-long program designed to offer paid internships for homeless students in Atlanta, GA. This program serves to provide these youth job skills, an income, and to also offer hope for getting out of the cycle of poverty. This internship potentially serves as a catalyst for future summer employment through the Youth Conservation Corps program for the following year.

Last updated: November 17, 2017