The Student Conservation Association (SCA), the national leader in youth service and stewardship, awarded its Founder’s Medal to Olympic National Park, one of two original SCA partners and the only park to provide young SCA stewards with service opportunities in each of the past 60 years.
Margie Brown, chairwoman of the SCA board of directors, presented the medal to park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum at park headquarters Saturday, August 12. The program also included remarks from SCA Founding President Liz Putnam, whose name and likeness adorn the Founder’s Medal. The award recognizes exemplary efforts in advancing the engagement of youth and young adults in hands-on service to the land, and Ms. Putnam is widely recognized as The Mother of the American Youth Conservation Movement.
The presentation coincided with SCA’s 60th anniversary. Ms. Putnam first introduced the idea of a “Proposed Student Conservation Corps” in her 1955 senior thesis at Vassar College, as under-funded parks struggled to keep up with surging visitor demands. Two years later, in 1957, with the aid of fellow Vassar alumna Martha Hayne (Talbot), the first 53 SCA volunteers reported for duty at Olympic and Grand Teton national parks, and SCA members have served at Olympic every year since.
“Since the very beginning, SCA has been about partnerships, teamwork, and banding together to achieve something greater than yourself,” Ms. Putnam said. “Service to nature and empowering youth are among our most noble callings, and that’s why it’s so rewarding to return to Olympic National Park and honor such a deserving medal recipient.”
“Many National Park Service employees today are alumni of the SCA,” said Acting Superintendent Lee Taylor. “The service of SCA volunteers across the country leaves a lasting impact on public lands and is often a stepping stone to a career in conservation.”
SCA alumni who served at the park during the organization’s earliest years were in attendance for the ceremony. The event also included the premiere of a new documentary, National Park Diaries, which spotlights the work of SCA volunteers in parks from coast to coast. More information on the documentary at www.thesca.org/connect/blog/national-park-diaries.