Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals Announces SCA’s Liz Putnam as National Recreation Leadership Award Winner

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) announced today that Liz Putnam, the founding president of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), is the winner of its 2016 National Recreation Leadership Award.
Each year, the SORP Board of Directors presents this prestigious award to a select individual whose career path has had a significant and lasting national impact on outdoor recreation and the outdoor recreation profession.
In her senior thesis at Vassar College in 1955, Liz conceived of a modern day version of the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). To address a growing crisis in our national parks, Liz proposed matching student volunteers with conservation projects to benefit both students and the parks. With the help of family, friends and mentors, Liz brought her idea to fruition in 1957 when the first Student Conservation Association volunteers – 53 high school, college and graduate students – served in Grand Teton and Olympic National Parks.
Today, SCA ( is the national leader in youth service and stewardship. SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship  of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
Every year, thousands of teens and young adults from every walk of life serve to protect our national parks, forests, seashores, historic treasures and urban communities. To date, more than 80,000 young adults from around the U.S. and 30 other countries have served in SCA, and more than 70% continue to work, study and volunteer in the conservation field.
Still active as SCA’s premier ambassador and honorary director, Liz has received numerous awards for her work. In 2010, she became the first conservationist to earn the Presidential Citizens Medal, bestowed at the White House by President Barack Obama. Liz has also received the U.S. President’s Volunteer Action Award, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Conservation Achievement Award as well as the Secretary’s Commendation, The Wilderness Society’s Robert Marshall Award, the Garden Club of America’s Margaret Douglas Medal, Rachel Carson Awards from both the National Audubon Society and Chatham University, and honorary doctorates from the University of Vermont, the State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry and the College of Wooster (OH). Liz has also received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society of Women Geographers and The CorpsNetwork Legacy Achievement Award.
The SORP Board of Directors will present Liz Putnam with the 2016 National Recreation Leadership Award at their annual conference that will be held on May 16-19, 2016 in Boise, Idaho.
Since 1983, the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) has been serving the outdoor recreation profession. It is the Nation’s leading association of outdoor recreation and related professionals who strive to protect our natural and cultural resources while providing sustainable recreation access. It is an organization with members throughout the world, representing federal, state, regional, and local agencies, consultants, non-profits, and academic institutions. The mission of the Society is to promote, advance, and serve outdoor recreation professionals in research, planning, management, and policy development. For more information, visit
Student Conservation Association