Park District Employees Garner National Awards


The East Bay Regional Park District is pleased to announce that two of its staff were selected for national recognition at the 2015 conference of the National Association for Interpretation, held Nov. 8 – 12 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

EBRPD Regional Interpretive and Recreation Services Manager Ira Bletz was recognized as a Master Interpretive Manager. Bletz has worked at the Park District over 30 years, including more than 25 years as the supervisor of Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Interpretive programs at the farm include the Historic Hay Harvest, Johnny Appleseed Day, the Historic Rail Fair, as well as myriad programs for casual visitors and school groups on farming heritage. His innovative programming also includes delving into the making of beer.

“As NAI looks towards the future for ways to expand interpretation into new areas and reach new audiences, Ira Bletz stands as an example of an interpretive manager who is already leading staff and docents forward,” said his colleagues Scott Mair (Parks Canada) and Sharol Nelson-Embry (EBRPD).  “He brings a fresh, new approach that is inclusive and engaging. His enthusiasm and passion are infectious.”

Kevin Damstra was honored with the NAI Award of Distinction. This award recognizes the efforts of NAI members who have distinctly or significantly furthered the mission and vision of NAI or the profession of interpretation. Damstra was nominated by his colleagues for his selfless work and dedication in establishing the NAI Advisory Council. Damstra was recently promoted from his position as naturalist at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, to supervising naturalist at Sunol Regional Wilderness.


 Ira Bletz toddler program

Above: Ira Bletz leads a toddler program at Ardenwood Historic Farm. Photo by Jurek Zarzycki.

Isa Polt-Jones