2015 Enos A. Mills Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Long before the term “environmental education” had been coined, Dan Parker was already weaving conservation of natural resources and education together. He is one of the earliest creators of environmental education (EE) in Colorado and, in fact, nationally.
Dan’s overall influence upon the development of EE is formidable, and most importantly, vital. His legacy is twofold: 1) accomplishments upon which he had a hands-on, direct effect in the creation, implementation, and improvement of a multitude of environmental educationally related strategies and 2) accomplishments in which he quietly, strategically, and steadily empowered and supported other people to rally to the cause. One of Dan’s unique gifts has been to expand the influence of the field by recruiting and rallying key people toward specific strategic goals. Perhaps purposefully, he remained out of the spotlight sometimes, but Dan’s EE “footprint” in Colorado can be seen in numerous programs and initiatives, which remain successful and active today, in some cases, more than four decades after he established them.
It was enormously important that Dan’s participation, leadership, and support helped to “complete” the scope of EE by representing the subject matter and area of influence of agriculture and the farming/ranching communities. This encompassed both the specific and general EE need of framing the story of soil conservation as related to natural resources management and agriculture, and helping to validate and establish a climate of more general cooperation and collaboration as a statewide approach to EE, which helped enable the initial development, eventual growth, and long term success of CAEE.