Kansas State Parks Director wins innovative achievement award

November 4, 2021

Linda Lanterman, State Parks Director for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, was recently honored with the Fran P. Mainella Award by the Clemson University Institute for Parks in recognition of her long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion in our nation’s parks.

The institute presents the annual awards program, which is named for George B. Hartzog Jr., the seventh director of the National Park Service, to showcase leading figures in the field of conservation. Specific awards were named after visionary leaders that Hartzog respected and admired. Award recipients are following in Hartzog’s footsteps by making significant contributions to the management of parks and preservation of our natural, historical, and cultural heritage.

The Fran P. Mainella Award is named in appreciation of the dynamic career of Fran Mainella, the first female director of the National Park Service. The award recognizes sustained and innovative achievement by a woman in the management of America’s natural, historic and cultural heritage.

Lanterman serves as the current president of the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers (NASORLO) and former president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), both organizations in which Director Mainella held leadership positions.

“Linda was a natural choice for this award as her passion and charismatic leadership are reminiscent of Director Mainella,” said Bob Powell, director of Clemson University’s Institute for Parks. “She is devoted to making our nation’s parks a place of beauty, refuge and solace to everyone who wishes to visit.”

Lanterman has long been a champion for the re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and was active in the Great American Outdoors Act efforts, as well.  She spent time in Washington, DC, educating Congress on the importance of the re-authorization and was one of the point persons for America’s State Parks in the successful negotiations.

As President of the NASPD, she provided leadership for the organization and was instrumental in establishing NASPD’s partnership with Clemson University for the implementation of a webinar series for State Park professionals around the nation. Lanterman is a strong believer in education and training opportunities and has served at the State Park Leadership School for two terms.

In 2006, Lanterman was assistant director of Kansas State Parks when they hosted the NASPD conference that Director Mainella attended. During the event, Lanterman and Mainella spent time together, and Lanterman credits that experience for having a lasting impact on her life and career trajectory.

“Director Mainella made an impact on a young lady who never thought she could be a park director,” Lanterman said. “After that, I went on to become not only a park director, but also president of the NASPD.”

Linda is still in awe of Fran to this day, as she has made an impact on all parks and the people she has inspired.


The Clemson University Institute for Parks (CUIP) provides research, education, training, and outreach that enhances the management of the world’s parks and protected areas. It accomplishes this by providing park and protected area managers with innovative research to support science-based decision-making; and by developing current and future leaders in the park movement by providing interdisciplinary and transformative education and training programs. The Institute currently consists of 35 Fellows and 10 Scholars working on park-related research.

Visit the CUIP website for more information about the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental Awards program and this year’s recipients.