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This award recognizes the outstanding contribution to the parks, recreation, tourism, sport, or golf profession at the state, national, or international level. The award is designed to recognize individuals who are not graduates of the NC State Deptartment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Recipients must be a practicing professional for at least twenty (20) years.

The department is excited to recognize Lewis Ledford as the 2009-2010 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

LewisLedfordLewis Ledford joined the state parks system in 1976 and was named director of the division in April 2004. He is the first director to rise from entry-level ranger to head the agency. After beginning his career at William B. Umstead State Park as a ranger, he served as superintendent at Mount Mitchell State Park for five years and west district superintendent for 16 years before being named superintendent of state parks in 2000.

Throughout his career, Lewis has been instrumental in developing important partnerships with a variety of groups, including conservation organizations, major land owners and other state, local and federal government agencies. Since assuming the role as head of the North Carolina state parks system, Lewis has provided outstanding
leadership and direction for the agency, spearheaded unprecedented park creation and acquisition initiatives and been an unrelenting advocate for more equitable compensation for ranger and maintenance staff.

In a state with some of the country’s highest population increases and competing interests in commercial development of lands, since 2004, five news state parks, a state trail and six state natural areas have been established by the N.C. General Assembly. Ledford has been a driving force in the creation and development of the Gorges State Park and the establishment of Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock, Haw River, Carvers Creek and Mayo River state parks.
Since Lewis became director in 2003, North Carolina has added almost 37,000 acres to the state parks system and created three new state parks, five natural areas and a state trail.

In 2007, Lewis was honored with the William Penn Mott Jr. Award for Excellence at the annual congress of the National Recreation and Park Association. The award is presented annually through the National Society for Park Resources to organizations and individuals to recognize outstanding service to the field of parks and recreation, and citizen action contributing to the advancement of the profession and parks and recreation programs. The award is named for a former director of the National Park Service.

Lewis is a member of the National Association of State Park Directors, the Association of Southeast State Park Directors and the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association. He is a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Volunteerism and the Special Achievement Award from the Carolina Region of the American Red Cross and has been recognized by the JC Penny Golden Rule Program for community service.

The department is excited to recognize Lewis Ledford as the 2009-2010 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

See a list of previous winners:

The Lifetime Achievement Award Archive