Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne Named as 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award Recipient

Washington, D.C. – The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, has been selected by a distinguished panel of more than 100 recreation and conservation community leaders across the nation to be honored as the recipient of the 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. Since 1989, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has presented this prestigious award to an individual whose “personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America.” America’s recreation community leaders recognized Secretary Kempthorne’s efforts as enhancing the experience of millions in the Great Outdoors today and long into the future.

Secretary Kempthorne was a recreation champion during his service in the U.S. Senate where he led successful efforts to create a sustainable funding source for building and maintaining trails and promoted balance between resource protection and outdoor fun. The award also recognizes the Secretary’s championship of recreation programs during his two terms as Governor of Idaho and his remarkable leadership as the nation’s Secretary of the Interior. In addition to tangible successes in park funding and his national leadership of efforts to increase outdoor activities by American youth, Secretary Kempthorne has brought about fundamental changes in the relationships among national interests in the environmental, conservation and recreation arenas. The new cooperation and conversation will have a lasting benefit for the shared legacy of parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. The recreation community also applauds the Secretary’s support for the Take Pride in America program and its messages of volunteerism and responsible use of the outdoors.

The Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award will be presented on Tuesday evening, June 10th, in Washington, D.C., as a featured event of Great Outdoors Week 2008. The award was established in 1989 in honor of Sheldon Coleman (1901-1988), longtime Chairman of The Coleman Company and a visionary champion of outdoor recreation and conservation. Winners are selected by a national panel of recreation and conservation leaders from both the private and public sectors. Among past honorees are former President George Bush, National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor, U.S. Senators John Breaux, Frank Murkowski and the late John Chafee, U.S. Representatives Jim Oberstar and Ralph Regula and former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

America’s recreation community leaders gather in Washington, D.C. during Great Outdoors Week (June 9 -14, 2008) to take part in meetings and events designed to increase the visibility of outdoor recreation on the national policy-making level, heighten the understanding and appreciation of recreation’s importance to the nation’s health, economy and quality of life, and provide an opportunity to highlight key recreation policy initiatives and programs and to recognize outstanding leadership on behalf of outdoor recreation. Great Outdoors Week will culminate on National Get Outdoors Day, June 14th. This annual event will encourage healthy, active outdoor fun with official sites across the nation welcoming new faces to the joy and benefits of the Great Outdoors. For more information on National Get Outdoors Day, go to: