October 1, 2014
Philip Hooge, 907-697-2230
Melissa Senac and Kelly VandenBerg, Glacier Bay National Park's Whale Education Team, have been awarded the 2014 Alaska Region Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation. The honor recognizes Kelly and Melissa for their many accomplishments highlighting the wonders of Glacier Bay whales to broad audiences.
In 2012, a unique "Whale Educator" position was created to manage and complete two massive whale re-articulation projects. The specialized skills required for the job made it a challenge to find one perfect candidate. The solution was to hire it as a "shared position" bringing two individuals with the perfect skill sets. Kelly and Melissa worked together to provide a wealth of meaningful interpretive opportunities and successfully return both whales to Glacier Bay as magnificent displays, for park visitors and the community of Gustavus. Through new exhibits, long distance education programming, web development, social media, and teacher portal offerings, this project also supports the GLBA Call to Action plan in the following action items: Out with the Old, Live and Learn, Parks for People, and Go Digital.
Kelly and Melissa are now in consideration along with six other regional winners, to receive the national award which will be presented in November at the National Association for Interpretation's annual workshop in Denver, CO. Since they were hired as a unique shared position, Kelly and Melissa represent the first time that a duo will compete as one for the prestigious Tilden honor.
The Freeman Tilden Award is one of the highest awards presented to National Park Service interpreters. The award was created in 1982 to stimulate and reward creative thinking and work that has positive effects on park visitors. Nominees are judged on creativity, originality and contributions to enhanced public understanding of the Park Service and the resources it protects.