Alabama State Parks held its 8th Annual Eagle Awards over the weekend, recognizing seven individuals and one organization. The award ceremony was held at Lake Guntersville State Park.
“Our Alabama state parks welcome millions of visitors each year, and none of that would be possible without the significant contributions of volunteers, elected officials, and community partners who provide programs and recreational activities year-round. ,” Commissioner Chris Blankenship said. of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Each year, the Eagle Awards Ceremony is a great opportunity to show appreciation for all of their efforts to enhance outdoor recreation and ensure our state park system remains among the best in the nation.
“We are truly grateful for their dedication and hard work.”
Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lane said the award recipients are state park partners.
“We have a simple slogan: 'Partners Pay,' and Eagle Award Winners are true partners in every way,” Lane said. “We are grateful to them for devoting their time and talent to our state parks, and we are honored to have them work to make our parks better than ever.”
The 2024 Eagle Award winners are:
- Elected Official: Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth led the Alabama State Board from championing his hometown parks at Guntersville Lake and Bucks Pocket to bringing attention to the needs of all state parks while presiding over the Alabama State Senate. He was a huge supporter of the park. Consideration and vote on park bond amendment.
- Elected Officials: Athens state Rep. Danny Crawford chairs the Joint Legislative Committee on State Parks. She also takes the lead in hosting legislative events at state parks.
- Youth: Albertville High School freshman Kendra Glover, volunteer. Each year, she works with her mother at Lake Guntersville State Park during Eagle Awareness Weekend to ensure the program runs smoothly for everyone. She is known as a young champion of the Lake Guntersville State Park program.
- YOUTH: Jackson Colley, a senior at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City, built two kiosks at Wind Creek State Park for an Eagle Scout project. The lifesaving kiosk includes a life ring and rope and an emergency contact number. A glass trail kiosk is located at the beginning of the walking trail and features an enclosed bulletin board for park staff to post trail maps and information about local wildlife.
- Community Partner: Nonprofit Raptor Ridge Wildlife Education
This adaptation of Eclectic educates the community about all things raptor-related. The group also works with rescued raptor ambassadors to educate the public about native wildlife.
- Park Partner: Dan Hendricks of the Alabama State Parks Foundation helped found and launch the Alabama State Parks Foundation in 2018. He became the organization's first president, a position he held until this month. A resident of Florence, he is currently also a member of the ASPF Board of Directors.
- Park Volunteer: Emily Duke participates in: Birds of prey presentations at Chewacla State Park and Wind Creek State Park. She also works as a bird handler during eagle awareness programs at Guntersville Lake State Park. She partners with many organizations to advance environmental stewardship, including Raptor Ridge Wildlife Education, Rise Raptor Project, and Wings to Soar.
- Park Volunteer: Jimmy Stiles volunteered at Eagle Awareness Weekend from 1988 to 2000, providing educational programs. He offered programs free to the public on topics such as herpetology, prescribed fire, and ecosystem management, and also led the park's risk management program. Park officials emphasize safe and effective venomous snake handling and removal.
ADCNR's Office of State Parks is responsible for managing 21 state parks containing more than 50,000 acres of land and water.
Austin Shipley is a staff writer at Yellowhammer News.