2017 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 2017 Freeman Tilden Award recipients!

National Recipient

Portrait of Hollie Lynch
Hollie Lynch

NPS Photo

National Capital Region

Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Site, District of Columbia, Maryland, & West Virginia

Hollie Lynch is being recognized for her lead role in the C&O Canal Classroom Education Program. Through her ideas and grittiness, as well as best practices, she has helped mobilize a network of people to support and implement the program. The program is now a sustainable and scalable, curriculum-based education program that serves K1-12 grade students in communities along the 184.5 mile park by providing relevant and experiential learning opportunities.

Her research and pursuits in collaborative work have earned the respect of her peers and helped her park unit to be more relevant and serve as a model for parks as dynamic learning landscapes.

Regional Recipients

Portrait of CJ Rea
CJ Rea

NPS Photo

Alaska Region

CJ Rea, Education Specialist
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

CJ Rea is a special combination of hard work and innovative thinking, a selfless educator who works tirelessly to bring underserved youth audiences to the park. She is being honored for the development of the curriculum titled: The People of the Park: Native Alutiiq (Suqpiag).

The robust program focuses on the way people used to live on the land that is now a national park. There is a great cooperative effort to co-create the program that eventually led to a new exhibition at the park. CJ keeps her finger on the pulse of the target audience. She asks interesting questions and most important, listens to the answers. Her contributions will continue to propel Kenai Fjords forward for years to come.
Portrait of Christopher Bentley
Christopher Bentley

NPS Photo

Intermountain Region

Christopher Bentley, Park Ranger
Coronado National Memorial, Arizona

Christopher Bentely has a long history of involvement with the National Association for Interpretation, including serving on the Board of Directors and as a speaker on numerous occasions and session presenter at the 2017 NAI International Conference on Interpretation in Mexico.

He is being recognized for his successful implementation of the Borderlands Festival. The NPS 2016 Centennial presented Coronado with a unique opportunity to reflect on the complex relationship between the US and Mexico. This festival promoted understanding and stewardship of the shared natural and cultural resources between the two nations. Bentley spearheaded the festival idea to facilitate discussions with colleagues and partners, allowing everyone to connect and learn from each other.
Portrait of Pat Schmidt
Pat Schmidt

NPS Photo

Midwest Region

Pat Schmidt, Park Ranger
Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas & Oklahoma

Pat Schmidt's vision and ongoing insights toward special day-long partnership event titled: Accessing Your Park's: Connecting Families of Kids with Disabilities to National Park and Federal Public Lands have advanced the park’s offerings.

She creates effective and customizable tools to dramatically improve the park’s engagement with children with disabilities and their families. She has helped transform and promote the many wonderful ways in which family can choose to participate together regardless of special needs.
Jason Bordelon and a stuffed bear
Jason Bordelon

NPS Photo

Pacific West Region

Jason Bordelon, Chief of Interpretation
National Park of American Somoa, American Samoa

Jason Bordelon is being recognized for contributions at his previous park, North Cascades National Park. Jason helped to implement the Hands on the Land Citizen Science Program, Summit to Sea at North Cascades. The STEM-based water quality monitoring program brings together many formal and informal education partners including the NPS, US Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Washington, the Lummi Nation Tribe, and the Lummi and Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Groups.

Jason not only takes an innovative approach to his work, his unique partnership skills result in sharing the program concepts and the benefits with as many as possible. Through Jason’s leadership, there were several occasions where other park divisions joined and lent their expertise to this project creating a cohesive park collaboration that truly demonstrated how a park can and should work together.
Portrait of Yvette Cano
Yvette Cano

NPS Photo

Southeast Region

Yvette Cano, Education Specialist
Everglades National Park, Florida

Yvette Cano has proven ideas and solutions and through her work with Zoo Miami. Yvette has been instrumental in helping new audiences recognize and make lasting connections with Everglades. A product of the education program she now serves, Yvette recognizes the value of becoming more relevant in the local community.

She has developed and nurtured the park’s new partnership with Zoo Miami and creation of the park’s new exhibit “Florida: Mission Everglades.” Yvette has helped the park understand, in a practical and relevant way, the problems that exist in every unit of the need to go beyond park’s boundaries to engage new audiences. Offering simple and actionable methods for addressing these problems like putting uniformed ranger at the zoo on busy weekends, she has advanced the team to meet audiences where they are.

Last updated: November 17, 2017