East Bay Park District volunteers and staff rack up the rewards
East Bay Regional Park District staff and volunteers have recently received various awards, all in recognition of the district’s work in serving the public.
Two major awards were received in 2021. One was the Excellence in Parks and Recreation Facilities Award, given by the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials. He cites three of the district’s regional coastal projects designed to increase public access, mitigate sea level rise and restore habitat. Projects were completed in 2020 at Judge John Sutter Shoreline in Oakland, San Francisco Bay Trail in Albany Beach and Bay Point in East Contra Costa County.
Another honor in 2021 was the Global Citizen Award from the East Bay and Silicon Valley chapters of the United Nations Association in the United States. He praised the district for keeping the parks operating and opening three coastal parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also recognized the district’s contributions to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as keeping the parks operating during the pandemic while opening the three new coastal locations.
More honors have accrued so far this year. Three awards of distinction were presented by the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts (CARPD).
Superintendent Ayn Wieskamp, who served on the park district board for 24 years, received a well-deserved Outstanding Board Member designation for her lifetime of service in environmental conservation and preservation of parks in perpetuity with access for all. Ayn also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals.
Carl La Rue and I are flattered to have been named Outstanding Volunteers. We have served a combined 37 years in the District’s Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol, whose members work in regional parks on foot, bike and horseback, reporting on trail conditions and helping park visitors.
CARPD has designated Dumbarton Quarry Campground on Fremont Bay as an outstanding new facility, the district’s first full-service coastal campground. The campground also received an Outstanding Achievement in Parks and Recreation Award from the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials.
And the district received an award for excellence in innovation in green community planning from the American Planning Association Northern California. Price is for work on the San Francisco Bay Trail.
Bart O’Brien, Director of the Regional Parks Botanical Garden at Tilden Regional Park, received the prestigious Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society. It acknowledges his four decades of leadership in promoting California native plant horticulture and biodiversity conservation, as well as his extensive research and publications in scientific and scholarly journals.
The California Parks & Recreation Society (CPRS) District 3 presented the park district with two awards this year. An award recognizes the Park District’s dedication to policies promoting justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). He cited many programs the district has implemented to promote and practice JEDI principles, including staff training and the naming of Thurgood Marshall Regional Park, home of Port Chicago 50.
CPRS also awarded an Outstanding Park Award to Dumbarton Quarry Campground. Two individuals were honored by the National Association for Performing (NAI), Region 9.
One is Ira Bletz, the district’s regional director of interpretive and recreation services. He received the Master Interpretive Manager Award. Ira has been a nature educator and manager of interpretive services in the district for many years. Among other assignments, he is the former supervisor of Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont.
And Ed Valenzuela has been recognized by the NAI as an outstanding interpretive volunteer. Ed is an enthusiastic volunteer at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, where he helps with school programs and acts as a host at the drop-in center.
Finally, the district’s San Francisco Bay Area Trails Adaptation and Risk Assessment and Adaptation Prioritization Plan received a California Trails & Greenways Planning Merit Award.
The Park District Board, staff and volunteers all greatly appreciate the honors conferred by these organizations. The district intends to continue its work of improving and showcasing the regional parks and the wide variety of programs and facilities they offer.
Ned MacKay writes about the sights and activities of the East Bay Regional Park District. Email him at [email protected]