Yellowstone employees and Xanterra Parks & Resorts took home over a dozen awards from the National Park Service and Department of the Interior this year.
An annual tradition, the NPS and Interior select outstanding staff, partners, and projects to highlight over the year, for outstanding individual contributions as well as work that benefits and/or highlights the NPS as a whole. The awards are divided into five categories, encompassing management, stewardship, interpretation, and environmental achievements.
Todd Koel was awarded the 2015 Regional Director’s Award for Natural Resource Management, for his work with native fish populations, specifically working to reverse declines in populations. His work included spearheading restoration of native arctic grayling and cutthroat trout to watersheds around the Park. Rick Wallen, meanwhile, was awarded the 2015 Regional Director’s Award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resource Stewardship, for his research on the genetic diversity of wild plains bison, especially in Yellowstone National Park. Coincidentally, he contributed to a bison book earlier this year: Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.
Rich Jehle won the 2015 Regional Freeman Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation, for his work with the West Yellowstone Outreach Program. Tami Blackford, Jjudy Knuth Folts, Neal Herbert, Jim Peaco, Diane Renkin, Brian Suderman, Joe Suderman, Holli Traucht, and Janine Waller were all awarded the 2015 Intermountain Region Achieving Relevance in Interpretation Award, for contributions made to the renovation of the Albright Visitor center.
Finally, Xanterra Parks & Resorts won a 2015 Department of Interior Environmental Achievement, for their Sustainable Food Choice Program. The award highlights Xanterra’s work in the Park to bring concessions to visitors and staff; at full capacity, Xanterra can serve 20,000 meals a day. Coupled with the sheer volume of traffic and the size of their food and beverage expenditures (around $10 million) the focus on sustainable food serving and preparation is indeed laudable.