NPS Wilderness Stewardship Awards

Congratulations to the 2021 NPS Director’s Wes Henry Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award Recipients

The National Park Service (NPS) Director’s Wes Henry Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Awards are the NPS’s annual recognition of outstanding contributions to wilderness stewardship by an individual, a group/team, and non-governmental partner, including those involving interpretation and education; management of natural, cultural, and social resources; planning; protection; and maintenance operations. Award recipients are nominated by fellow NPS staff and selected by an interdisciplinary panel.

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Mark Kinzer

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Individual Award: Mark Kinzer

Mark works in Atlanta, GA where he has served as the NPS South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Wilderness Coordinator for several years. His work in 2021 exemplifies the scope and scale of his efforts to advance servicewide wilderness stewardship and understanding. Mark serves as the Vice Chair on the NPS National Wilderness Leadership Council and leads two work groups that are developing guidance for wilderness operations that intersect with Wilderness Act legal requirements. Regionally, he has supported and collaborated with southeast wilderness parks to complete wilderness eligibility assessments and planning efforts. Mark’s generous leadership and technical expertise paired with his collaborative spirit makes him a truly valued wilderness steward.

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Steve Akin, Congaree National Park's Acting Superintendent

NPS photo

Team Award: Congaree National Park

In 2021, various park divisions at Congaree National Park, in South Carolina, came together to enhance wilderness stewardship on multiple fronts. From instituting a new programmatic minimum requirements analysis for evaluating tool use, to addressing mobility and other accessibility issues in the park’s wilderness area, to equipping staff and community partners with essential wilderness ethics, risk management, and first aid training, 2021 was a full year for wilderness stewardship in the park. This work alongside many other interdisciplinary efforts helped strengthen the park’s commitment to wilderness stewardship and equip staff and partners with the skills to thoughtfully manage wilderness in 2022 and beyond.

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Jillian McKenna

NPS photo

Non-Government Partner Award: Jillian McKenna

In 2021, Jillian McKenna interned and later worked as a contractor at Glacier National Park, in Montana, to assist with their wilderness character monitoring efforts. It was not long until she was leading development of the park’s Wilderness Character Baseline Assessment, a complex and highly interdisciplinary process. She simultaneously produced a wilderness character map that spatially depicts the condition of wilderness character throughout the park. Jillian also helped shape NPS national guidance for wilderness character monitoring by providing thoughtful feedback and lessons learned at Glacier, and readily offered her work in the spirit of collaborative learning. Her combination of skill, curiosity, and adaptability makes her a great wilderness champion and steward.

Last updated: August 19, 2022


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