2016 Director's Partnership Award Winners

America's conservation movement was led by concerned citizens who joined forces to preserve our nations' first public lands. Their unrelenting commitment, hard work, and passion led to the preservation of our first national parks and to the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916.

As we celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, we reflect upon the outstanding achievements of our partners with deep gratitude. The innovation, leadership, and expertise with which they approach and meet challenges, and the many lives they touch through their initiatives, programs, and activities has led to great achievement and an ever growing community of National Park Service supporters and advocates. Together, stronger, lets launch into our second century!

Congratulations to the 2015 winners of the Director's Partnership Awards!

American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Camille Ferguson and Sammye Meadows

Crowd gathered at Desert View Watchtower for a dedication ceremony
On May 22, 2016, over 100 participants attended the re-dedication ceremony of the Desert View Watchtower.

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American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Camille Ferguson and Sammye Meadows

Their combined voices, networks, and expertise has enabled the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, the Inter-tribal Advisory Council and Grand Canyon National Park to develop a strategic plan and a new vision for interpretation and tribal engagement at the Desert View Watchtower. Visitors can now participate in first voice demonstrations at an inter-tribal cultural heritage center and marketplace, and tribal youth can participate in employment and internship programs.

Appomattox 1865 Foundation and Sue Cochrane

Civil War era reenactors standing on a porch
The Appomattox 1865 Foundation presents lectures, living history programs, grade school and public education programs, enriching the experience and knowledge of so many.

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The financial and volunteer support provided by the Appomattox 1865 Foundation to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, throughout the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Appomattox Court House enabled more than 25,000 people to attend events, reenactments, ceremonies, and community engagement efforts.

Their support of research projects and a new student exchange program will introduce high school students to exciting new learning opportunities and enable a deeper understanding and sharing of stories, yet untold, for years to come.

The Hoonah Indian Association, Bob Starbard (T'akdeintaan), Frank Wright (L'uknax.adi), Wayne Howell, Mary Beth Moss, and Ken Grant

American Society of Landscape Architects

Crowd gathered outside an event tent
The Huna Tribal House groundbreaking was celebrated during the summer of 2014. Throughout the project, traditional skills such as tool making, carving, and cedar bark and spruce root weaving were passed on.

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Twenty years of relationship building and collaboration between the Huna Tlingit Tribe and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve was celebrated with the opening of the Huna Tlingit Tribal House onAugust 25, 2016. This, and other achievements, including the passage of subsistence legislation, honors the Tlingit Tribes' connection to their homeland; provides a venue for ceremonies, workshops, camps, and tribal meetings; and, through mentoring, apprentice opportunities and interpretive programs, ensures the Huna Tlingit culture, language, and history will be passed on to current and future generations.
Group of architects gathered at a table
Planning teams made up of community groups, federal and state agencies, and universities and schools come together to develop trail systems that weave into and around local communities.

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Since 2000, volunteers from the American Society of Landscape Architects have collaborated with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program and community planning teams in over 60 communities nationwide, to develop, design and landscape walking, hiking, and biking trails that safely link residents to schools, business districts, and parks and that provide a myriad of fun opportunities to recreate, exercise and enjoy the outdoors. View design and planning efforts in action, explore future trails, and celebrate success!

Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, Paul Roelandt, and Dr. Briget Eastep

Youth sitting in a line
The Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative provides students a continuum of learning experiences, including employment opportunities organized through the Youth Conservation Corps.

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The Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, a consortium of 19 federal and state land agencies, the Paiute Tribe, and Southern Utah University, has worked with Cedar Breaks National Monument to place students into employment, internship, and volunteer positions. These positions expose students to public lands jobs and projects and link students to friends and mentors; leadership and job skills; and pathways to college, career fields, and to their public lands.

San Antonio Conservation Society

Group gathered the sluice gate
In 2011, after over 20 years of effort led by the San Antonio Conservation Society and other partners, water was reintroduced to the San Juan Acequia with former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson lifting the sluice gate.

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In 1924 the San Antonio Conservation Society began an effort that continues to this day; the preservation and restoration of the lands and missions within what is now San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Their first initiatives resulted in the purchase and restoration of the San Jose Mission Granary and the Espada Mission acequia aqueduct. Over the years, they purchased land to protect the missions from encroaching development, completed mission stabilization and restoration projects and led the long-term effort to establish the mission complex as a National Historical Park.

National Park Foundation

Find Your Park logo
#FindYourPark has inspired over 2.4 million social actions so far, contributing to a significant increase in individuals and communities eager to lend their support for the future.
The National Park Foundation has achieved unprecedented success in promoting national parks and programs and in sparking nation-wide public engagement throughout the multi-year Find Your Park - Encuentra Tu Parquepublic engagement campaign. Through social media, PR, advertising, andvideo; Find Your Park billboard and digital displays; special events; and creative expansion into new and diverse media markets, the Find Your Park campaign has generated 15.9 billion impressions, exposing so many to the National Park Service and enabling a groundswell of engagement, support, activity, and advocacy.

Edison Innovation Foundation

Portrait of John Keegan
John Keegan, President and Chairman of the Edison Innovation Foundation

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For 19 years, the Edison Innovation Foundation has worked to make accessible to all; the vision, life, and entrepreneurial spirit of Thomas Edison. Their financial contributions have enabled the restoration and rehabilitation of Thomas Edison National Historical Park, including the Edison Laboratory Complex, the Glenmont Estate, and Edison's gas and battery powered automobiles. Through their support and implementation of Innovation Programs and internships, they foster the love of learning and inspire creativity and innovation.

The Nature Conservancy Kansas Chapter, Alan Pollom and Rob Manes

People standing at a podium
Visitors can now explore and enjoy this rare ecosystem by hiking newly developed trail systems, participating in catch and release fishing programs, and by joining tours and educational programs.

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The Nature Conservancy Kansas Chapter, in alliance with state and local agencies, ranching and agricultural sectors, environmental organizations, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, developed a multi-layered approach to conserving tallgrass prairie. Their work led to an expansion of protected land (through a conservation easement program), success in promoting ranching practices that protect surrounding prairie lands, the introduction of fire management processes, and, following an absence of 150 years, the reintroduction of the American Bison.

Voyageurs National Park Association

VOYA Group holding a large check
Members of Voyageurs National Park Association present the Landmark Grant donation to employees at Voyageurs National Park.

Image courtesy of Voyageurs National Park Association

Their commitment to youth and visitor outreach and their passion for preservation has been a catalyst for exciting initiatives at Voyageurs National Park. Through their Landmark Grant and Teen Ambassador Program, Voyageurs National Park Association has engaged teens in transformational outdoor experiences, enabled critically important wetland restoration, and increased visitor engagement opportunities through the expansion of programming and visitor center staffing.

Friends of Acadia

Group of people at a table having a discussion
The Friends of Acadia met with people in communities across Maine, developing networks and engaging people near and far in this major milestone and celebration.

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Through the Acadia Centennial Task Force, the Friends of Acadia worked to inspire, empower, and organize support and participation in the 100th Anniversary of Acadia National Park. By organizing community work groups, they brought together "Mainers" from across the state, including over 350 public and private partners who facilitated 100 plus state-wide community events. Their community based approach and their online efforts provided guidance on how to engage in Centennial efforts and developed grassroot networks that will continue making change well into the next century.

Friends of Minute Man

Group of people gathered in the woods
Members of the Parker's Revenge Metallic Survey Team worked with archaeologists and historians to recreate likely battle field scenarios.

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Through the Parker's Revenge Project, Friends of Minute Man led collaborative efforts to research, map, interpret, and re-create the site of an important battle that occurred during the opening days of the American Revolution. Their financial and volunteer support to Minute Man National Historical Park resulted in a large scale archival and archaeological analysis of the site, discovery and analyses of significant artifacts, and a deeper understanding of a pivotal battle and its impact on all that would come to transpire.

The Fort Frederica Association

Historical photo of Alfred Jones, Margaret Davis Cole, and Director Conrad Wirth
In 1958, President Alfred Jones and founder and historian of Fort Frederica Association, Margaret Davis Cate, dedicated the visitor center to National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth.

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The Fort Frederica Association was founded in 1940 to establish Fort Frederica National Monument. For years they sponsored archaeological research, and lobbied and won the support of congress to achieve their goal; preservation of the 1736 fort and military outpost, the epicenter of conflict between Britain and Spain. This achievement led to another large scale effort; raising the funds to make the park's initial land purchase. Throughout the past 75 years they have continued to share their passion for the site, making it accessible to all through the development of a visitor center, library, theatre, and bookstore and through their support of educational and interpretive programs.

National Park System Advisory Board, Philanthropy and Partnerships Committee

Members of the National Park Service Advisory Board
(L to Rt/Bk to Fnt) Craig Bida, Dan Puskar, Quinton Martin, Paul Bardacke, Neil Mulholland, Loran Fraser, Katie Nyberg, Alan Kumamoto, Mary Jo Veverka, Deb Yandala, Suzy Mink, Susan Smartt, Reginald Chapple. Not Shown, Denise Fairchild, James Ferris, Dale Penny, Martin Shell

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The National Park System Advisory Board Philanthropy and Partnerships Committee was formed to help guide the National Park Service "Toward a New Era of Philanthropy and Partnerships". Committee members shared and researched partnerships and philanthropy best practices and participated in group discussions, site tours, and presentations by subject matter experts. Their final report guides the National Park Service as it seeks to forge deeper relationships with current partners and increase its capacity to engage new and diverse partner communities.

National Heritage Areas Best Practices Calls: Heather Wickens, Katie Montgomery, and Julie McPike

Civil War reeanactors carrying a US flag
Spread across the U.S., National Heritage Areas are places where nature, culture, and history intersect and where powerful stories are preserved and told. Community members and federal and state partners work together to enhance both National Heritage Areas and local communities.

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Since 2011, Heather Wickens, Katie Montgomery, and Julie McPike have, through their Best Practices Calls, brought together National Heritage Areaemployees and partners across the country to share ideas, successful projects, and new initiatives. Each month they develop topics of nation-wide interest, coordinate efforts with featured speakers, and facilitate each call. What results is a dynamic and engaging conversation, a learning and sharing environment, and a forum that brings together a service-wide community.

Washington Association of New Jersey and Eileen Cameron

Members of the Washington Association of New Jersey and a ranger holding a large check
Washington Association of New Jersey Board of Trustees and Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen present $1,347,355 to Morristown National Historical Park for the fabrication of exhibits in the Discover History Center at Washington's Headquarters Museum.

Image courtesy of Daniel Beards

Envisioning what life was like for the 12,000 soldiers who fought in the Spanish American War between 1779 and 1780 is not easy, though due to the efforts of the Washington Association of New Jersey, is now possible. Since 2005, they have contributed the funds to plan, design, fabricate, and install interactive exhibits at Morristown National Historical Park. Exhibits that will help visitors envision the life of these soldiers and the harsh realities they faced surviving in a military encampment during one of the harshest winters on record.

California Academy of Sciences, Scott Loarie and Ken-ichi Ueda

Two people using an app on a cell phone to take a photo of plants
Give the iNaturalist APP a try! Ken-ichi Ueda (left) and Scott Loarie (right), iNaturalist developers, demonstrate how the APP can bring us closer to nature.

Image courtesy of Richard Morgenstein

In 2014, the California Academy of Sciences partnered with the National Park Service to modify the iNaturalist APP (a social media platform where naturalists convene to upload and share plant and animal observations and images) enabling the National Park Service to digitally track and manage species data during BioBlitz events. Their partnership culminated when, in 2016 during the National Park Service Centennial BioBlitz, 1000s of participants at over 200 nation-wide BioBlitz events used the APP to upload species data, which was broadcast to all, in real time.

The Nature Conservancy, New York City Program, Emily Nobel Maxwell and Lauren Alleman

Person standing in a field
The Nature Conservancy organizes hundreds of volunteers to remove invasive plants and conduct animal, plant, and soil surveys at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

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The saltmarshes, forests, and watery havens of Jamaica Bay attract up to 326 bird species that fly in to rest, refuel, and breed during their annual migration. This critically important ecosystem will only increase in animal and plant diversity thanks to the Nature Conservancy, New York City Program, who is providing the funds, volunteer and management support to restore native maritime upland habitat in Gateway National Recreation Area and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to stop by on one of your migrations, to celebrate their success and witness this rich convergence of life, firsthand.

Mojave Desert Land Trust

Hiker on a rocky desert trail
By knitting together this "high" desert ecosystem, the Mojave Desert Land Trust protects its' inhabitants and preserves its' night skies, natural sounds, and breathtaking beauty.

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The Mojave Desert Land Trust facilitates all aspects of land protection, from acquisition and restoration, to ecosystem monitoring and community engagement. Since 2007, they have leveraged funds to purchase, restore, and donate land within the Mojave Desert to the National Park Service. To date, 670 parcels of land, totaling over 29,000 acres have been donated toMojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park.

City of Mitaka, Japan, Mayor Keiko Kiyohara, Kenichi Kawase, Karen Cucurullo, John Kirkpatrick, Tetsuya Yokoyama, Cherry and Green Association of Friendship, Cheryl Banes, Frederick County Public Schools, MD, and Cheryl Messenger

Group of kids coloring a mural on a wall
On the National Mall, children at the Friendship Mural exchange gifts of art with children in Japan.

Image courtesy of Ranger Kirkpatrick

For the past four years, the City of Mitaka, Japan, Cherry and Green Association of Friendship, and Frederick County Public Schools, MD has partnered with the National Mall and Memorial Parks to engage grade school students in the creation of a Friendship Mural. Student drawings and messages are sent electronically to the U.S. from Japan where volunteers translate each message and recreate the mural, which is displayed at the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Through this exchange of art; a colorful tapestry of community and friendship is created and shared between two nations, and the world.

Last updated: September 21, 2017