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Alvin C. York State Park Wins Excellence in Innovation Award

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has honored Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park in Pall Mall with the Excellence in Innovation Award among the 56 Tennessee State Parks. The award is part of the annual Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence.

“We are always looking for innovation at our state parks to serve visitors in the best ways possible,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park has shown an ability to do that. This award recognizes the work to find innovative ways to meet an important need. We honor the park for its performance.”  

The park opened a blacksmith shop in 2020 and needed a position to handle the shop. It worked with the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation to secure a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, specifically a Targeted Arts Development Initiative grant for $5,000. This allowed the park to provide a stipend and purchase supplies for the shop.

The park then posted a Want Ad on the website of the Association for Living History Farms and Agriculture Museums. The park was contacted a short time later by a young man in Colorado who was looking for a position in blacksmithing. The grant was crucial in providing three full months of programming at the blacksmith shop. The position has proved important in keeping the park’s interpretive efforts active, and it means the park was able to secure a much-needed position free of charge to the park’s budget.

The awards category for Innovation is for parks that have demonstrated the ability to think creatively to enhance or improve their parks. The project must be long lasting or far reaching.

TDEC also announced awards for the best parks in the following categories:

Johnsonville State Historic Park for Customer Engagement; Henry Horton State Park for Interpretation; Dunbar Cave State Park and Edgar Evins State Park in a tie for best Resource Management.

Radnor Lake State Park was named Park of the Year as well as winning the award in Sustainability.