WNPA Awards, Grants, & Scholarships - Western National Parks Association

WNPA Awards, Grants, & Scholarships

Honoring National Park Supporters—Encouraging Future Advocates

Every year, Western National Parks Association honors individuals and organizations that spread awareness of WNPA and national parks, conduct exceptional research in parks, engage the public in the national park ideals through high-quality educational and interpretive materials and programs, and make parks accessible and relevant to a diverse audience. Meet our past honorees or browse the award, grant, and scholarship opportunities below.

Emil W. Haury (courtesy NPS).

Emil W. Haury Lifetime Achievement Award

The Emil W. Haury Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to scholarly research in the national parks and monuments over the course of a career or lifetime. Haury, a preeminent archaeologist and anthropologist, devoted his career to chronicling the prehistory of the Southwest, compiling the most complete cultural history of any region in North America. He is most famous for his work at Snaketown, a Hohokam site in Arizona. Haury was the first to claim that the Hohokam were descendants of the Paleoindian Cochise culture. In 1938, he was instrumental in founding the Southwest Monuments Association, renamed Western National Parks Association in 2002. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Park System Advisory Board, Haury died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1992.

black and white photo of Edward Bridge Danson
Edward B. Danson (courtesy NPS).

Edward B. Danson Award

The Edward B. Danson Award celebrates individuals who display exceptional support for WNPA and national parks. Danson, a noted archeologist, made Arizona his home in 1937 and discovered his passion for anthropology there. As director of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, he helped reveal the past and reshape the future of the West and preserve the grandeur of the Southwest and the legacy of the first peoples of Arizona. He served on the WNPA board of directors and the National Park System Advisory Board and received the Department of Interior Conservation Award in 1986. Danson, who was father of actor Ted Danson, died in 2000 in Sedona, Arizona, at the age of 84.

photo of stewart udall speaking at a podium
Stewart L. Udall (courtesy University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections).

Stewart L. Udall Award

The Stewart L. Udall Award salutes those who work to boost park interpretation programs, carry the park message to popular audiences, or rally broad public support for parks. Udall, a pioneer of the modern environmental movement, was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona’s 2nd district from 1954 to 1961, and secretary of the interior from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Under his leadership, the Interior Department aggressively promoted an expansion of federal public lands, adding four national parks, six national monuments, eight national seashores and lakeshores, nine national recreation areas, twenty national historic sites, and fifty-six national wildlife refuges. A former WNPA board member from 1984 to 1994, Udall died in 2010 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Do you know someone who deserves a WNPA award? Nominate them today.

photo of jim cook
James E. Cook, WNPA CEO from 2011 to 2022 (courtesy Randy Spalding).

James E. Cook Nature’s Classroom Grant

Named in honor of WNPA’s chief executive officer from 2011 to 2022, the James E. Cook Nature’s Classroom Grant was established to increase access to national parks for underrepresented K–12 youth. It provides funding for educators to bring national parks to the classroom and the classroom to national parks. During Jim’s tenure, WNPA incorporated the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in its mandate, and worked to make our partner parks more accessible, more welcoming, and more inclusive of all peoples and their stories to represent the full breadth of experiences related to these important lands. Based on the premise of inclusivity, WNPA strives to cultivate a passion for parks in youth, as well as a greater appreciation and understanding of our natural and cultural heritage, to foster the next generation of park advocates.

two park rangers conduct a vegetation census and record results
Courtesy of NPS.

WNPA Research Grant

WNPA supports the acquisition of knowledge by providing grants in support of research that benefits the management, preservation, and interpretation of National Park Service resources served by WNPA. The WNPA research grant program supplements research programs of the National Park Service.

Grant projects must originate in a WNPA-affiliated park. A listing of affiliated parks can be found at the Discover Our Parks section of the website. All fields of scholarly research are supported, including anthropology, archaeology, botany, citizen science, ecology, geology, history, social science, and zoology.

To learn more about the research grant, download the RFP, or submit your project proposal, click button below.

Do you want to support grants, scholarships, and other WNPA programs?

Ernest Quintana (courtesy NPS).

Ernest Quintana and Marty Sterkel Education Scholarship

This scholarship supports young adults pursuing careers that increase diversity in the workforce. Scholarships are awarded to those working with the National Park Service (NPS), similar government agencies, and nonprofit heritage conservation organizations. Ernest “Ernie” Quintana held an illustrious 41-year career with the NPS, including a wide array of positions from ranger to associate regional director of partnerships. Quintana created the scholarship with the late Marty Sterkel, whose equally distinguished 33-year career included his role as associate director of national resources, science, and partnerships in the NPS’ Midwest region. This scholarship continues Quintana and Sterkel’s dedicated work bringing diverse communities to the national parks across the country.

photo of pepe marcos-iga
Pepe Marcos-Iga at Tucson Festival of Books (courtesy WNPA).

Pepe Marcos-Iga Leadership Scholarship

The Pepe Marcos-Iga Leadership Scholarship assists WNPA staff who demonstrate outstanding leadership and a commitment to lifelong learning. A force in environmental education and conservation for more than two decades, Pepe was devoted to capacity-building, cultural competency development, and online training and networking. He was international programs director for Environmental Education Exchange and was a member of the leadership team of the EECapacity project, EPA’s National Environmental Education Program, in partnership with Cornell University and the North American Association for Environmental Education, where he served as board chair. From 2016 to 2018, Pepe was WNPA’s chief operating officer, having previously served on the WNPA board of directors. He lost his battle with cancer in 2018.

Find out if you qualify for one of WNPA’s scholarships.