Recognizing the 2018 Legends and Beacon awards winners


The Beacon Award recognizes outstanding efforts by federal agencies and partners in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management. Forest Service by Ben Johnson.

WASHINGTON, DC — Janet Zeller, National Accessibility program manager, and Francisco Valenzuela, director of Recreation Heritage and Wilderness in Region 3, are the winners of the 2018 Legends Award in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. Toby Bloom, Monika Derrien and Ashley Newson were the winners of the 2018 Beacon Award, in recognition of their work on the USDA Forest Service mobile app as well as harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences.

Janet Zeller has a career dedicated to ensuring that people of all ages and abilities enjoy access to the full range of national forest lands and experiences while protecting the natural resources and settings that people come enjoy. Zeller championed the development of an innovative mobile tablet based survey process in a GIS based application to document current accessibility compliance and identify corrective measures. Through her exceptional leadership and technical expertise, she influenced many positive changes for the public who use and value our National Forests, preserving access and experiences for all.

Francisco Valenzuela’s work brings partnership and community connection into the heart of sustainable recreation. Valenzuela helped guide the development of over $500 million in infrastructure, the largest comprehensively planned investment in recreation infrastructure and services in Forest Service history, at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. His dedication to sustainable recreation development, research and policy have had a tremendous positive impact on the Forest Service facilities that connect visitors to outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities.

Toby Bloom, national program manager for Travel, Tourism and Interpretation, provided leadership and guidance in the development of the USFS mobile app “National Forest and Grasslands Explorer.” Monika Derrien, Sustainable Recreation program lead, and Ashley Newson, Travel, Tourism and Interpretation resource assistant, provided assistance, support and guidance to forest units app managers who built the app for their individual forest. The mobile app is a streamlined system for providing information and services to the public and enriching visitor experience with stories about the history of our forests, the communities and cultures they share, and the natural wonders we protect. Forests are also using the mobile app as a tool for communicating important messages and safety information to the public.

The recipients of both the Legends and Beacon Awards were honored during the Partners Outdoors Conference in Washington D.C., with the Beacon Awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 30 and the Legends Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 31. This special meeting, co-sponsored by the American Recreation Coalition, the federal land management agencies and the National Association of State Park Directors, has been held annually since 1992.


Janet Zeller, National Accessibility program manager for the USDA Forest Service, accepts her Legends Award for Lifetime Achievement in Recreation from Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen and Outdoor Recreation roundtable president Derrick Crandall. Forest Service photo by Toby Bloom.

Francisco Valenzuela, director of Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness for the Southwestern Region accepts his Legends Award for Lifetime Achievement in Recreation from Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen and Outdoor Recreation roundtable president Derrick Crandall. Forest Service photo by Toby Bloom.

Toby Bloom, Monika Derrien and Ashley Newson accept the Beacon Award on behalf of the 50+ Forest Service employees who developed specific forest apps for the National Forest Explorer mobile app. Forest Service photo by Ben Johnson.