Clemson University Institute for Parks

2011 Award Recipients

The Benton H. Box Award - Lawrence "Larry" Zehnder
The William C. Everhart Award - David Larsen in Memoriam 
The Walter T. Cox Award - Jonathan "Jon" B. Jarvis
Fran P. Mainella Award - co-awarded Ruth Coleman and Becky Kelly
The Robert G. Stanton Award - awarded alternate years
The Dwight A. Holder Award - Margaret "Gina" McLellan

The Benton H. Box Award

The Award is named in appreciation of Dr. Box's distinguished career as an educator/administrator, especially as Dean of the College of Forest and Recreation Resources at Clemson University, which he led to national and international recognition for academic excellence and for leadership in fostering private innovation in resource management. The Award recognizes the teacher who by precept and example inspires in students the quest for knowledge; or the administrator who fosters a learning environment and encourages curriculum innovation to inculcate an "environmental ethic" as the rule of conduct involving resource management, development and utilization; or the private practitioner whose management over a sustained period demonstrates leadership in preserving, enhancing, renewing and restoring a livable environment.

Dr. Lawrence Allen and Dr. Ben Box presented the Benton H. Box Award to Larry Zehnder.The Benton H. Box Award was presented to Lawrence "Larry" Zehnder for recognition as a private practitioner who by precept and example inspires in students the quest for knowledge and encourages curriculum innovation to inculcate an “environmental ethic” as the rule of conduct.

Lawrence “Larry” Zehnder serves as Administrator of the City of Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department. His work experience covers 37 years and has served in parks and recreation positions in Cleveland, OH, Greenville, SC, Athens, TN, Charleston, SC, and Norfolk, VA. His professional contributions include serving as President of two State Associations in Virginia and Tennessee and board membership in three states. He served as the Southeast Regional Director of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). He led the NRPA Southern Region as Chairman of the Regional Council in 1997, and served as the 1999 Chairman of the National Council of Affiliate Presidents, a body represented by Presidents from all 50 states. He is actively involved with the Tennessee Recreation and Park Association.

When Larry came to Chattanooga to run the Parks and Recreation Department in 1992 he went for a canoe trip down the Tennessee River and asked "what programs and facilities do we have to get people out into this environment?", the answer was nothing at the time.  Thus began an incredible effort by Larry and his staff to broaden the vision for what Parks and Recreation could mean to a city, to the citizens, the economy and the environment.  Larry took a city voted in the 60’s as one of the dirtiest cities in the US to a destination for tourists, businesses, PRTM students and a city on many top lists, like best places to live, greenest cities to live, highest quality of life.  Larry and his staff have expanded the environmental ethics of the citizens of Chattanooga by getting them out into the incredible environment they live in, and this has built appreciation that results in financial support for programs. In fact, Chattanooga is soon to be the smallest city to support a bike share program in the United States.

Chattanooga Parks and Recreation had 14% growth last year, during one of our worst economic climates in modern times. The citizens of Chattanooga wanted to raise taxes before closing any facilities. Chattanooga Parks and Recreation now manages 4,500 acres of parks in the city of Chattanooga; 1,600 are developed park facilities and 2,900 are natural areas with 33 miles of trails.  His success is his commitment to collaboration and partnerships with entities like the National Park Service, the Lands to Parks program, as well as innovative partnerships with the Trust for Public Land and Volkswagen.

An example of this partnering comes from a recent quote from Cathy Cook, Superintendent of Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park:" Through Larry Zehnder's leadership, the City of Chattanooga's Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with the National Park Service at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park to expand both the heritage tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities that highlight the natural and cultural history of this region. These opportunities include bike tours on both Moccasin Bend and Chickamauga Battlefield through a partnership with Outdoor Chattanooga, gateway planning for Moccasin Bend and region wide trail planning. Larry understands the strength of partnering with other land management agencies and community organizations so that his Department can enhance the quality of life for all in the greater Chattanooga area."

Larry is a graduate of Clemson University, as well as a graduate of several of the NRPA professional schools, and is professionally certified in three states. In 2001, he received the prestigious Harold D. Meyer Award from the National Recreation and Park Association and in November 2008 received the State of Tennessee’s highest professional award – “The Tennessee Recreation and Park’s Fellow Award”. 

He has been happily married to his wife, Judith, for 34 years and has three grown sons and two grandchildren.

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The William C. Everhart Award

Dr. Lawrence Allen presented the William C. Everhart Award in Memoriam to David Larsen's widow, Susan Journell.

The Award is named in appreciation of the distinguished career of Bill Everhart as field interpreter, researcher, administrator, author, and creator of the National Park Service's Harpers Ferry Center for creative design and communication, which has received national and international recognition for excellence. The Award recognizes sustained achievements during a career or in a specific episode that illuminate, provide creative insights to, and that foster an appreciation of our natural and cultural heritage.

The William C. Everhart Award was awarded in Memoriam to David Larsen for sustained achievements in interpretation that have illuminated, created insights to, and fostered an appreciation of our cultural and historic heritage.

David Larsen’s life passion was facilitating better visitor and public engagement with the meanings of the resources and associated stories that are preserved and protected within the National Park Service. He understood that the NPS alone cannot preserve these resources and what they represent without enlisting the support of tens of thousands of individuals who, with assistance, might discover a personal link to a resource, or a story, and decide to help protect it themselves as well. David contributed to his profession in profound and far-reaching ways as few others have. His legacy is an enlightened interpretive workforce, committed with passion and enthusiasm, to interpretation and education. His contributions to the principles and practice of interpretation and its ideals are examples of how one person’s energy can make such a far-reaching difference.

Mr. Larsen spent 13 years as a front-line interpreter at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington Monument. He also taught environmental education for two years at Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, Maryland. David worked for the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and for History Associates, Inc. For five years, David was the interpretive historian for the National Capital Region Support Office. For the past seven years, he served as Training Manger for Interpretation and Education at Stephen T. Mather Training Center.

Mr. Larson traveled all over the country conducting interpretive training, field evaluations, and interpretive planning. Since 1995 he was a leader and champion for the creation of professional interpretive standards through a national curriculum, peer review certification program and coaching network implemented through the National Park Service’s Interpretive Development Program. David worked extensively with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on similar standards, as well as with the National Association for Interpretation.

David wrote and directed the training video An Interpretive Dialogue, and spearheaded the creation of Meaningful Interpretation—a workbook publication on interpretive philosophy and best practices. His significant accolades included the Regional Freeman Tilden award for the National Capital Region, the National Park Service Sequoia Award (the highest honorary award for excellence in interpretation) and a Crystal Owl Team Award for excellence in training and development. David’s enthusiasm, dedication, passion and innovation will continue to provide inspiration to thousands of interpreters around the globe.

In recent years Mr. Larsen reached new heights in his leadership role. As the co-chair of the National Education Council, he helped author the Interpretation and Education Renaissance Plan, providing a blueprint for reinvigorating the profession and its impact to achieve the NPS mission. He engaged in intensive leadership training through Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education. He coordinated interpretive planning for the new Flight 93 National Memorial. And he played an important role supporting the National Park Service’s Second Century Commission, helping to craft the vision and direction for the Service for generations to come.

Larsen’s most recent passion was for Civic Engagement, allowing visitors the opportunity to dialogue and discuss what park resources mean, personally and collectively. David’s passion lived within his deep commitment to offer visitors the opportunity to see our national landscapes from diverse multiple perspectives. “The formula is really quite simple,” Larsen wrote in his journal in 2002: the first step with visitors should be to, “let them feel.” Through that feeling, they could come to express what their parks mean to them. This was always the heart of David’s work in parks: connecting people to the landscape and its stories.

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The Walter T. Cox Award

Dr. Lawrence Allen presented the Walter T. Cox Award to Jon Jarvis, 18th Director of the National Park Service.

The Award is so named in appreciation of Dr. Cox's distinguished career in education and public service, especially his tenure as President of Clemson University and as the Director of the Santee-Cooper Authority. The Award recognizes sustained achievement in public service on the firing line, where the public interest meets the private interest in public policy formulation and administration; distinguished leadership and support of innovation in conflict resolution of policy initiatives that enhance the quality of life; personal achievements during a career or in a specific episode that provides inspiration and leadership to others in serving the above purposes.

The Walter T. Cox Award was awarded to Jonathan (Jon) B. Jarvis for sustained achievement in public service providing leadership in administration of public lands and for policy formation affecting our natural and cultural resources.

Jonathan (Jon) B. Jarvis officially became the 18th Director of the National Park Service on October 2, 2009. A career ranger of the National Park Service, who began his career in 1976 as a seasonal interpreter in Washington, D.C., Jarvis now directs the agency that preserves and manages some of the most treasured landscapes and valued cultural icons in this nation.

Prior to taking the helm as Director, Jarvis served as the Regional Director of the Pacific West Region, with responsibility for 58 units of the National Park System in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands of Guam, Saipan and American Samoa.

Jon Jarvis moved up through the National Park Service as a protection ranger, a resource management specialist, park biologist, and Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources. He served as superintendent at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and the Superintendent of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. He became the Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park in 1999. In 2002, he became the Regional Director of the Pacific West Region.

Jarvis served as president of the George Wright Society, 1997-98, a professional organization that sponsors a biennial conference on science and management of protected lands around the world. Mr. Jarvis has published and lectured on the role of science in parks at conferences and workshops around the U.S.

In his previous positions, Mr. Jarvis has obtained extensive experience in developing government-to-government relations with Native American tribes, gateway community planning, FERC relicensing, major facility design and construction, wilderness management and general management planning.

A native of Lexington, Virginia, the Director has a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary and completed the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Program in 2001. He and his wife Paula have two children, Benjamin and Leah.

Jarvis also presented the lecture for the Annual George B. Hartzog Jr. Lecture in the Strom Thurmond Institute.

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The Fran P. Mainella Award

The Award is named in appreciation of the dynamic career of Fran Mainella as the first woman Director of the National Park Service. As Director, she focused some of her many efforts on creating systems of connected parks and developing innovative partnerships to expand services. Director Mainella was previously the Director of the Florida State Park Service and the Executive Director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association. The Award recognized sustained and innovative achievement by a woman in the management of North America's natural, historic or cultural heritage.

The Fran P. Mainella Award was co-awarded to Ruth Coleman and Becky Kelly for sustained and innovative achievement by a woman in the management of North America's natural, historical, or cultural heritage.

Fran Mainella, 16th Director, NPS / Visiting Scholar along with Dr. Lawrence Allen presented the Fran P. Mainella Award to Ruth Coleman.

Ruth Coleman currently serves as Director of California State Parks. She was appointed Chief Deputy for California State Parks in January 2002, after having joined the department in December 1999 as Deputy Director for Legislation. During her decade at State Parks she has overseen the acquisition of over 115,000 acres valued at over $682 million; the expenditure of over $650 million for 1400 construction projects including visitor centers, campgrounds, infrastructure improvements, historic preservation and natural resource restoration, and the distribution of $1.6 billion in bond funds for more than 5000 grants to cities, counties and special districts to construct local park facilities. In the latter part of the decade, she has steered the organization through several significant budget cutbacks. In 2010 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Park Directors.

Before coming to State Parks, Ms. Coleman worked in the state capitol as Policy Director for Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, and Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Thompson focusing on environmental legislation such as, salmon and steelhead restoration, the protection of the Headwaters Forest, park bonds, water bonds, agriculture policy and water policy.

Ms. Coleman also has worked for the Air Resources Board in the electric vehicle program and the Office of the Legislative Analyst, focusing on fiscal and policy issues in the natural resources area, particularly the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Fish and Game. Prior to her work in Sacramento, she spent three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland, Southern Africa.

Ms. Coleman received her Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Economics from Occidental College.

Fran Mainella, 16th Director, NPS / Visiting Scholar and Dr. Lawrence Allen presented the Fran P. Mainella Award to Becky Kelly.Becky Kelly was appointed Director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites Division in September 2002. As director, she oversees 49 state parks and 15 state historic sites that encompass 85,647 acres and employs over 1,000 staff. Amenities include campgrounds, cottages, group camps, golf courses, lodges/conference centers, historic homes and culturally significant lands, and over 530 miles of trails.

Under Becky’s leadership, the division has twice been a finalist for the National Gold Medal Award for excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development and professional development.  The division also received the inaugural 2009 National Award for Planning Excellence for Georgia’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

Prior to her work with Georgia DNR, Becky was with the DeKalb County, Georgia Department of Parks and Recreation. She had been with the department for 26 years and was their director from 1992 - 2002. 

Ms. Kelly is active with the National Association of State Parks Directors, National Recreation & Parks Association, National Association of State Liaison Officers and National Association of Recreation Resource Planners She also serves on a number of local and state boards and is a member of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association. 

She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia with a BS degree in Recreation Administration. 

Becky and her husband Steve reside in McDonough, GA. They have one daughter, Amanda, who is a senior at Georgia State University. 

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The Robert G. Stanton Award

The Award is named in appreciation of the remarkable career of Robert Stanton as the first African-American Director of the National Park Service. Among the many accomplishments of Director Stanton was expansion of the interpretation of diverse cultural meanings inherent in National Parks and increased participation by racial and ethnic minorities as both visitors and employees. The Award recognized sustained and innovative achievement by a member of a racial or ethnic minority in the management of North America's natural, historic and cultural heritage.

The Robert G. Stanton Award is presented for sustained and innovative achievement in the management of North  America's natural, historic and cultural heritage.

This awarded is presented in alternate years.  

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The Dwight A. Holder Award

The Award is named in honor of Mr. Holder's illustrious career as an entrepreneur and public servant. As Chairman of the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission he led South Carolina's parks into a new era of service to the people of South Carolina and the nation. The Award recognizes outstanding work by doctoral candidates in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; a member of the Department faculty for original research, scholarly writing, and innovative and inspired teaching; the faculty adviser and graduate student as a team, for initiatives that foster understanding of and provide new insights into the promotion, management, wise use and enjoyment of South Carolina's natural and cultural heritage in perpetuity; and distinguished academic leadership by a member of the Department faculty. (Mr. Holder passed away in Spring 2006).

The Dwight A. Holder Award was awarded to Margaret "Gina" McLellan for outstanding work or Alumnus of PRTM and sustained achievement after graduation, management, wise use, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.

Dr. Lawrence Allen presented the Dwight A. Holder Award to Gina McLellan.

Margaret “Gina” McLellan is Emeriti Professor of Parks and Protected Areas Management within the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management.  Her career spanned three decades, and with her retirement of June 2003, she leaves a legacy of students, professionals, and university-community service accomplishments that is truly outstanding and far reaching. They range from federal government to state universities to local schools.

Since 2000, Dr. McLellan has served on the Pickens County Beautification and Environmental Advisory Committee and has helped develop an environmental education program for the county focusing on every third grader in Pickens County and their family. In the 10 years of the Pickens County Traveling Trash Bash, nearly 14,000 students and over 50,000 of their family members have been reached by this all-volunteer effort that includes between 30-50 PRTM students every year.

In 1981, she began an intensive professional development program to train U.S. Forest Service employees in recreation management. For over 25 years, Dr. McLellan served as Director of the U.S. Forest Service Recreation Short Course, offering leadership training to nearly 1,000 professional foresters and recreation resource managers. This program grew to become a model for mid-level and upper-level advanced training in recreation management.

She and her students were constantly immersed in service-learning activities, developed as part of her courses in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management. Her work in the area of sustainable environments led her to develop “sustainable schoolyard environments” at schools throughout the State of South Carolina. In recognition of her tireless and innovative efforts, Gina received the Governor’s Palmetto Service Award in 2002 and was recipient of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Commendation of Excellence in 2001. In 2006, she and three colleagues published a new textbook entitled, Designing Outdoor Environments for Children.”

Dr. McLellan received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of South Alabama in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and Recreation Administration, respectively. She was granted a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1981, with a major in Recreation Resource Management. She and her husband, Bob, still reside in Clemson and are the proud parents of a daughter, Laura, who is a student at the University of Oklahoma.

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Past Award Recipients

Past Lecturers