The Westside Gazette’s environmental writer Audrey Peterman has been selected to receive the National Park Conservation Association’s Centennial Leadership Award 2022, for her “role as an important and influential park advocate.” The Award will be presented at the organization’s Annual Salute to the Parks at the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in DC, on April 6, 2022.
“I am overjoyed that this news is coming in the holiday season,” says Peterman. “Everyone needs some good news right now and to have a Black person celebrated by the park community is really a new beginning.”
The announcement emphasized, “We enthusiastically nominated you for this award as both NPCA and the National Park Service have benefitted from your passion for protecting and preserving our national parks and public lands. We are grateful for your decades-long commitment to building a movement of BIPOC park rangers, park advocates and park lovers. We are inspired by your tenacity, resiliency, and dedication to ensuring that the National Park Service keeps its fundamental promise to serve, inspire, and welcome all of us. Your legacy as a champion for national parks and public lands is very well established and our recognition of your contributions richly deserved.”
Mrs. Peterman and her husband Frank left Fort Lauderdale in August 1995 to drive around the USA and “see America.” Visiting national parks including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite allowed them to see a side of America that she did not know existed. They came back with stars in their eyes and devoted themselves to inform the local and national community, often through the pages of the Westside Gazette Newspaper. The couple went on to write prolifically about impending climate change and the effects it would have on our country and particularly the Black community in South Florida.
The ceremony will also honor Robert G. Stanton, the first and only Black Director of the National Park Service who will be presented with the William Penn Mott Jr. Award, which “recognizes a public official who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the protection of the National Park System.” Jack Gladstone, Blackfeet Cultural Interpreter & Lyricist, will receive the Robin W. Winks Award for “communicating the values of the National Park System through the arts.”
The evening will be capped by a conversation on stage among the awardees in front of an audience of congressional and park leaders, and many others. Tickets go on sale soon.