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State Parks’ Wang earns national honor

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on Sep. 9, 2008 at 1:26 pm with No Comments »
September 9, 2008 1:26 pm

Steve Wang, interpretive program manager for Washington State Parks, has received a national lifetime achievement award. The honor, from the National Association of State Parks Directors, recognizes Wang for his nearly 30 years of work..

The announcement was made this afternoon by the State Parks department.

Steve Wang

Wang, 59, will receive a special President’s Award for extraordinary work furthering the educational and stewardship goals of Washington State Parks. Wang was nominated for work statewide, including unique interactive displays, fun and engaging live programs and facilities devoted to interpretation, the release said.

His favorite projects include displays at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco; the Ginkgo Interpretive Center near Vantage; Sacajawea Interpretive Center in Tri-Cities and his current work on the agency’s efforts to tell the story of the Ice Age floods that carved the landscape of much of Eastern and Central Washington. Recently he was on the team that installed displays at Beacon Rock, Sun Lakes, Ginkgo Petrified Forest, Palouse Falls, Steamboat Rock and Yakima Sportsman state parks, as well as at Dry Falls Visitor Center, the release said.

Here is the rest of the release:

"Interpretation involves looking for all kinds of ways to get people engaged in understanding and appreciating their environment," Wang said. "In fact, we do have a slogan or guiding statement that defines our approach: ‘Interpretation is the art of creating opportunities for park visitors to connect with the world around them.’"

Cindy Sulenes-Farr, an agency colleague, coordinated the nomination, which was endorsed by State Parks Director Rex Derr. The nomination was for an annual history award with the association that includes the 50 directors of all states’ parks agencies. But Derr said after reading the nomination, the selection committee decided Wang’s work deserved greater recognition and notified the agency of the decision to award a special lifetime achievement honor.

"The higher level award is so well-deserved," Derr said. "Steve is absolutely impeccable about the integrity and accuracy of his work, while not withholding any of his passion for the work and the subject matter he’s dealing with. For decades, he has helped visitors discover the magic of Northwest life. His work is a legacy that will be enjoyed by visitors for generations to come."

Sulenes-Farr said Wang has a gift for finding unique ways to tell a story, whether it is through one of his live programs delivered with sparkle and enthusiasm, or through displays or interpretive signs. State Parks visitors of all ages have been observed enjoying Wang’s work along trails, at exhibits or in interactive displays.

Raised by a teacher dad and a mother who pursued professional-level archaeology as an avocation, Wang says he learned early to be curious about things. A special uncle also encouraged him to seek the story behind the story in the natural world. As a young person, he spent considerable time at the Chippewa Nature Center in Michigan and later operated his own environmental education business before going to work at State Parks. At Parks, he worked with legendary figures such as the late Dick Clifton of Olympia, an artist who was honored after his death with a resolution passed by both houses of the Legislature.

"I’m honored by this award," Wang said. "But I’m also honored and feel very fortunate to have had the chance to be involved in this work."

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