Roy Wood, Chief of Interpretation for Katmai National Park & Preserve has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Alaska Region Freeman Tilden Award for his partnership with the Annenberg Foundation’s explore.org to bring the bears of Brooks Camp to the world through the installation and operation of several webcams.
The image of a brown bear fishing the lip of Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park is one of the most iconic national park images, yet few could name the park where it happens. This partnership is changing that, both nationally and around the world. Now millions of people can not only name Katmai, maybe identify the bear on the cam too. A key goal of the bearcam project was to provide a digital gathering place, a “virtual campfire,” where visitors to the website could gather and share their experiences. Park rangers answer questions in the forums and through live chats. And the numbers are huge with millions of hours of live streaming and website hits, nearly a million unique viewers, and thousands of simultaneous viewers. Beyond the numbers, if you browse the more than 165,000 comments about the bearcams on the explore.org webpage you will find some truly touching testimonials to the difference these cams have made in people’s lives. Many of the blogged responses to the webcam indicate that those watching the live footage will likely never come to Katmai National Park due to the cost, distance and logistical complexities involved, yet they are very supportive of the idea that the National Parks preserve places like this.
The Freeman Tilden Award is an annual award recognizing outstanding contributions to the public through interpretation by a National Park Service employee. The award was created in 1982 to stimulate and reward creative work by National Park Service employees that results in positive impacts upon the visiting public. As the 2013 Alaska Region Freeman Tilden Award winner, Roy will be among seven regional award winners, one of whom will be selected by a national panel to be the recipient of the 30th National Freeman Tilden Award. This winner will be announced November 7th at the National Association of Interpretation National Workshop. Good luck Roy!