Washington, DC (December 9, 2010) – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today accepted the National Park Trust’s (NPT) American Park Experience Award for his outstanding work to connect communities and young people to our public lands and the outdoors. The award was presented jointly by NPT officials and scores of school children who participate in NPT’s Where’s Buddy Bison Been?® Program.
NPT’s Board of Directors unanimously selected the Secretary to receive the Award for his work spearheading the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which will help reshape the nation’s conservation policies and for his work to create Youth in Natural Resources Programs. NPT also applauds his initiatives at the Department of Interior to build a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps to engage, educate and employ young people from all backgrounds to explore, connect with and preserve our country’s unique natural and cultural heritage.
NPT also praised his lifetime commitment to protect the nation’s public lands. This is exemplified by his past support for the creation of Great Sand Dunes National Park, by his work in the South Platte River Basin, and by his current work at the Department of the Interior to achieve full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to expand protection of our treasured landscapes.
“The Secretary’s passion to engage youth with the outdoors and in conservation, especially those who are underserved, is an inspiration for our Youth to Parks programs and for the many students, teachers, and families who participate in the Trust’s youth programs, including our Where’s Buddy Bison Been?® Program,” says William Brownell, NPT Chairman of the Board.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN PARK EXPERIENCE AWARD
The American Park Experience Award was established in 2009 to recognize an individual or group that has made outstanding contributions to enhance the awareness and appreciation of our nation’s parks, wildlife refuges, and historic landmarks. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan were the first co-recipients of this award. The Secretary will accept the Award at a reception in Washington, D.C. this fall.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of our nation’s critical parklands and reconnecting our youth – especially those that are underserved – to nature. NPT’s mission is to provide important recreational and educational parkland opportunities for current and future generations. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants to build greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country’s public lands and parks. To achieve this, NPT seeks to champion the acquisition and preservation of critical national, state and local parklands and to build a greater awareness through education – focusing on our youth.
Acclaimed director, Ken Burns, became the co-recipient of the National Park Trust's first ‘American Park Experience' Award for his work on the new documentary series: The National Parks, America's Best Idea. The Award was presented at an intimate setting hosted by NPT Board Chair, F. William Brownell on March 4, 2009 in Washington D.C. The film's writer and co-producer, Dayton Duncan, also received the award at an event hosted by NPT on February 4, 2009, where an exclusive preview of the film was aired.
In accepting the award Burns said that, "our film celebrates the beauty of these parks and the vision and foresight of the men and women who made sure that this land would be preserved." The six-part documentary will be aired this September and traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. Over six years in the making, Burns says, "the heart and soul of the film is not just a history of the parks but about our emotional connection to them."
NPT Board Chair says, "I believe that Ken Burns' work will touch and inspire many millions of viewers about the importance not only of preserving and protecting our National Parks, but also the need for our generation and successive generations to witness and learn first-hand about these natural treasures."
With more than 40 million people expected to see the film, Burns stated that through educational outreach, he is committed to reaching diverse populations who may not have an historical connection to the parks. Burns believes that the film will encourage people to visit the parks, and he wants to ensure that all Americans understand that "we together own some of the most spectacular real estate in the world."
NPT is also committed to connecting children and their families with the parks. As part of that commitment, NPT launched a program called ‘Where's your Buddy Bison been?'. It is a national public service initiative which encourages children to go to the parks with their Buddy - NPT's stuffed animal mascot - and send NPT stories and photos of their experiences. NPT board member, Diana Leon Taylor, gave Burns his own Buddy Bison at the event. Burns plans to take Buddy to his 4-year-old daughter, who has already visited at least six national parks.
NPT created the American Park Experience Award to recognize an individual or group that has made outstanding contributions to enhance the awareness and appreciation of our nation's parks, wildlife refuges and/or historic landmarks. NPT is honored to present the first award to both Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan.
Ken Burns is known for his filmmaking style of using archival footage and photographs. Among his most notable productions are The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz. Burns' documentaries have been nominated for two Academy Awards and have won seven Emmy Awards.
The National Park Trust is a nonprofit organization, and the nation's only organization dedicated to the completion, and the full appreciation, of the American system of National and State Parks through the identification of key land acquisition needs and opportunities, the convening of potential funders to acquire these lands, as well as increasing efforts to ensure that future generations appreciate and experience this national heritage.