National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior


Office of Public Affairs

1849 C Street, N.W

Washington, DC 20240

202-208-6843 phone

202-219-0910 fax

National Park Service News Release


Office of the Secretary

For Immediate Release:  November 7, 2003

Contact:  Joan Moody (DOI) 202-208-6416

                    Elaine Sevy (NPS) 202-208-6843


        Take Pride in America Award Presented to TelecomPioneers


(Washington) -- Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today presented a Take Pride in America

 Award to  TelecomPioneers for the organization’s continuing commitment to improving the national

park experience for visitors with disabilities.  Take Pride is part of President Bush’s USA Freedom

Corps, dedicated to fostering a culture of service to others.


TelecomPioneers, formerly the Telephone Pioneers of America, is the largest industry related

volunteer organization in the world, made up of U.S. and Canadian telecommunications industry



“I am delighted to renew this unique and important partnership with TelecomPioneers,” Norton said.

“It is also with great pleasure that I present TelecomPioneers with the Take Pride in America award

for their dedication and commitment to working with the National Park Service to help enhance the

enjoyment of our park visitors with disabilities.”


The TelecomPioneers and the National Park Service have shared a long-standing partnership for

10 years, which has saved the NPS and the American public hundreds of thousands of dollars

and has enhanced the level of visitor enjoyment for those with disabilities.  Today’s award

ceremony celebrating this successful partnership also heralded in another decade

long-commitment between both organizations through the signing of a new Memorandum of



“The National Park Service is committed to providing improved accessibility to our visitors with

disabilities,” said NPS Director Fran Mainella.  “We sincerely thank the TelecomPioneers for their

outstanding contributions over the years, which have taken us a long way toward fulfilling that goal.

We still have much to do, and we look forward to extending this partnership another decade, which

will help provide the nation’s millions of citizens with disabilities the chance to come to our national

parks and be able to experience the same opportunities afforded other citizens.”


Since 1990, over 100 projects in more than 100 National Parks have been completed.  Projects

included the donation of equipment, providing listening devices for visitors with hearing impairments,

Braille and large print publications for blind and visually limited visitors, telecommunication devices for

deaf visitors and audio recordings of interpretive information for blind individuals.  Other efforts have

 included major construction projects involving large numbers of volunteers working weekends under the

supervision of NPS employees to complete efforts such as the 1.5-mile Limberlost Trail, a wheelchair

accessible trail in Shenandoah National Park (VA), a similar trail in Yellowstone National Park

(WY, MT, ID), and an accessible boardwalk trail of more than 1,000 feet in Biscayne National Park (FL).


“I’m very pleased to accept this award on behalf of our many dedicated volunteers, the current employees

and retirees of the telecommunications industry, who work so hard to improve the quality of life for others,”

said James Gadd, TelecomPioneers Executive Director.  “I’m also proud to announce that the

TelecomPioneers Board of Directors has voted to renew the longstanding partnership we have had with

the National Park Service, enabling our Pioneers to continue volunteering their time and talents to

providing access, and enriching and enjoyable experiences in our National Parks for those with



Supported by numerous private associations and organizations, Take Pride in America is a national

partnership that aims to inspire a new generation of volunteers to put their love of country to work to

improve our national parks, wildlife refuges, public lands, cultural and historic sites, playgrounds and

other recreation areas.


Secretary Norton launched the Take Pride in America program on April 16, 2003, at the National Press

Club. On June 27,Norton named Marti Allbright, former chief deputy attorney general of Colorado,

as the director.  For additional information, go to