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Institute for Parks

2022 George B. Hartzog, Jr. Awards Recipients

About The Hartzog Awards

Every year, the Clemson University Institute for Parks recognizes up to six exemplary leaders for their work to address environmental issues and concerns in parks and protected areas.

See below to learn more about the 2022 recipients of the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental Awards. You can also download the event program for information about this year's winners. 

2022 Award Winners

Benton H. Box Award - Eric Dinerstein, Ph.D.


Dr. Eric Dinerstein is the Director of WildTech at RESOLVE and the co-developer of TrailGuard AI. Eric has extensive experience conducting field research on rhinos and tigers in Asia beginning in 1975 in the Bardia National Park of Nepal and then from 1984-1989 as a biologist with the Smithsonian where he led field research and monitoring of rhinos and tigers in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park.

For twenty-five years (1989-2014) he was Chief Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund. Eric has also played a central role in creating the conservation plans for many iconic landscapes—including the Terai Arc in Nepal, the panda mountains of China, and the Galapagos.

Eric has published widely on the biology and conservation of tigers, rhinos, and elephants and authored several books on these species and on biological rarity. More recently, he led two publications calling for a Global Deal for Nature aimed at saving life on Earth and stabilizing the climate and another paper to operationalize it, called The Global Safety Net, both published in Science Advances. He is also a co-author on a new paper to provide the scientific basis for a pragmatic approach to rewilding large mammal species to restore intact vertebrate assemblages globally.

Robert G. Stanton Award - Alan Spears

alan-spears-head-shot-june-2014.jpgAlan Spears uses real-life stories and a conversational style to connect with his audiences to promote NPCA’s advocacy and the critical role the National Park Service plays in protecting, interpreting and managing this nation’s historic and cultural resources.

A veteran advocate and member of the Government Affairs department, Alan leads community outreach and legislative engagement on a variety of park protection issues. Recent victories include joining with NPCA colleagues, partners and allies to win the designation of the Fort Monroe, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Colonel Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers, Pullman, and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monuments.

Alan’s current efforts include National Heritage Area program defense, serving as NPCA’s lead coordinator for the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools national park designation campaign, and work in Mississippi to create a new national park site commemorating the legacy of Emmett Till, Mamie Till-Mobley, and the foot soldiers of the Mississippi civil rights movement.

Dwight A. Holder Award - Maria Whitehead, Ph.D.


Dr. Maria Whitehead is an ornithologist, professor, and conservation professional.   She has worked for 15 years in land and water resource protection in the Southeast and the interdisciplinary realm of climate adaptation and community resilience.  As a coastal program manager for The Nature Conservancy, she helped initiate a water fund program to establish oyster restoration sites, protect tidal wetlands and address wetland migration in South Carolina. Today, as Vice President and Director of Land for the Southeast at Open Space Institute, she guides the strategic direction of land conservation to realize OSI’s mission of protecting scenic, natural and historic landscapes. She serves as the lead on varied conservation projects and initiatives including landscape-scale conservation projects, comprehensive community engagement strategies, and conservation finance tactics. In less than six years she has assisted in the permanent protection of more than 55,000 acres of some of the most important and imperiled Southeast landscapes.

 In recent years, Whitehead has worked with community leaders, conservation professionals and state agency staff to establish a park network along SC’s Black River which includes the first state park in SC in over 20 years.  The visionary project seeks a new paradigm for conservation in the Southeast.  In addition to habitat and cultural resource protection, the Black River Initiative focuses on rural economic opportunity, improving access to nature-based recreation in underserved communities, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.      

Whitehead received her BA in Biology from Davidson College, her MS from University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and her Ph.D. from Clemson University’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. She has taught as an adjunct professor at Furman University, The Citadel, and the College of Charleston.  She currently teaches for Clemson’s Master of Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program.

William C. Everhart Award - Katie Bliss


Katie Bliss serves as the Deputy Division Manager for the Division of Training at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center. Although she just moved to the FWS in February after serving as the US Forest Service’s Director of the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, Katie’s conservation career spans three continents and 25 years, starting with a BS in Wildlife Ecology from University of Florida. In college, Katie worked for a turtle hatchery on a remote island in Japan before joining the Peace Corps as a Parks and Wildlife specialist in Uruguay. There, despite conducting surveys of the endangered Pampas Deer by horseback through the rolling countryside and rescuing oil-covered Magellanic penguins along the otherwise-pristine coastline, she found herself gravitating away from fieldwork towards environmental education.

Upon her return stateside, Katie joined the National Park Service and worked as an interpreter, educator, and supervisor in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Antonio Mission National Historical Park, and Everglades National Park before becoming a full-time trainer and instructional designer. After earning her M.S. in Resource Education from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2005, she joined the instructional team at Indiana University’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands on a long-term intergovernmental agreement. There she established an interpretation and education distance learning platform, award-winning online courses, and coaching network before moving to the Stephen T. Mather Training Center in 2010. 

In 2011, as the Servicewide Training Manager for NPS Interpretation and Education, Katie initiated a comprehensive revision of interpretation and education competencies. Working closely with field practitioners, non-profit and university partners, she designed and conducted a training needs assessment based on established and emerging practices, such as facilitated dialogue and audience centered experiences. The exploration of these practices, while designing the training needed to close identified performance gaps, led to philosophical and practical changes in how interpreters and educators engage the public. Katie was awarded the NPS Sequoia award in 2017 for her sustained, positive impact on the profession of interpretation. Today, Katie continues to explore the edges of personal and professional growth through new recreational pursuits, voracious reading, and seeking those who challenge her comfort zone.

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