Gary M. Robb, a former eastern Utah resident received one of the highest awards the National Park Service gives out on Oct. 30.
Robb was presented the NPS 2008 Accessibility Leadership Achievement Award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his 35 years as a professional he was an advocate for citizens with disabilities to have the same opportunities in the park and recreation environment as everyone else.
It began when Robb was a recreation therapist working with institutionalized individuals, and progressed while he was serving as a camp director for children with disabilities, managing the 2300 acre "Bradford Woods Outdoor Education and Leadership Center" at Indiana University. This continued while he was serving, for the past 15 years, as the Director of the National Center on Accessibility (NCA), a cooperative partnership with the NPS.
Robb was one of the founding partners of the cooperative partnership between the NPS Park Facility Management Division's Accessibility Management Program, and Indiana University's Department of Recreation and Park Administration. The primary goal of the cooperative agreement was and continues to be to combine the resources and expertise of the NPS with that of the university in order to promote accessibility for people with disabilities in all aspects of the park and recreation environment, in compliance with all applicable laws, standards and regulations.
Over the last 16 years, through a comprehensive program of research, technical assistance and continuing education, the NCA has played a critical role in working with the NPS to meeting their legislative requirements regarding access for citizens with disabilities. In addition, through an extensive outreach program, the NCA has made those same services available to other federal, state and local park and recreation professionals throughout the nation.
Since its inception in 1992, professionals such as park superintendents, facility managers, architects and landscape architects, program coordinators, civil engineers, planners, interpreters, exhibit designers, accessibility coordinators, advocates and consumers have drawn on the NCA as a valued resource.
According to the NPS under this cooperative agreement and through Robb's leadership, Indiana University, the NPS and the NCA over the past 18 years have utilized their combined resources and expertise to develop a collaborative program to carry out the following projects and programs.
â¢Develop and implement a national training and education program for the NPS and other park and recreation professionals at the federal, state, local and private level.
â¢Develop and implement a national technical assistance, information and consultation program for the NPS and other park and recreation professionals.
â¢Develop and implement a field based research program designed to identify research issues related to improving accessibility for people with disabilities in the park and recreation environment, and initiate strategies to promote and conduct that research.
â¢Develop and maintain an outreach program to park and recreation agencies and professionals at the Federal, state, local and private levels in order to ensure that "best practices" currently being implemented regarding accessibility are identified and shared with others.
â¢Develop and maintain an outreach program to agencies and organizations representing individuals with disabilities at the Federal, state, local and private levels designed to ensure that the programs and services of the NCA are responsive to their needs.
â¢Develop and implement a strategy to evaluate the effectiveness of the training, technical services and research, and modify the programs and services as determined by that evaluation.
According to Steve Whitesell, associate director of park planning, facilities and lands for the NPS, alongside the NPS staff on field visits, in training rooms, and in congressional hearing rooms, Robb has "been an outstanding champion of our national parks."
Robb grew up in Price and graduated from Carbon High School, the College of Eastern Utah and the University of Utah.