Biography of Jon Jarvis, Brandwein Medal Recipient

Jonathan B. Jarvis began his career with the National Park Service in 1976 as a seasonal interpreter in Washington, D.C. Today, he manages that agency whose mission is to preserve America’s most treasured landscapes and cultural icons.

Jarvis’s 37-year career has taken him from ranger to resource management specialist to park biologist to superintendent of parks such as Craters of the Moon, North Cascades, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Mount Rainier. Before being confirmed as the 18th Director of the National Park Service on September 24, 2009, Jarvis served as regional director of the bureau’s Pacific West Region.

Today, he is responsible for overseeing an agency with more than 22,000 employees, a $3 billion budget, and 407 national parks that attract more than 280 million visitors every year who generate $30 billion in economic benefit across the nation.

The National Park Service brings the park idea to virtually every county in America. Grants from the Land and Water Conservation and Historic Preservation Fund help communities preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Since 1976, the Service’s tax credit program has leveraged more than $60 billion in private investment in historic preservation to help revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods across the country.

Jarvis has also reinvigorated the National Park Service’s role as an international advocate for protected areas and recognized world leader in cultural and natural resource management.

Managing the National Park Service on the eve of its centennial in 2016, Jarvis has focused on several key areas that are critical for the future: enhancing stewardship of the places entrusted to the Service’s care; maximizing the educational potential of parks and programs; engaging new generations and audiences, and ensuring the welfare and fulfillment of National Park Service employees.

Jarvis speaks frequently about climate change, sustainability, the outdoors as a source of public health, and the parks as a unifying, inspirational force for the nation. His blueprint for the agency’s second century, A Call to Action, calls for innovative, ambitious, yet practical ways to fulfill the National Park Service’s promise to America in the 21st century.

From a seasonal interpreter in the year of our nation’s bicentennial to the head of an internationally known institution on the eve of its 100th birthday, Jarvis has gained a thorough knowledge of these great American treasures, the national parks.

“America’s National Park System is a gift from past generations to this and succeeding generations,” said Jarvis. “And while the challenges we face today – like climate change, shrinking open space, habitat destruction, non-native species, and air and water pollution – could not have been imagined when this agency was established in 1916, our mission remains the same: to preserve this nation’s natural and cultural heritage, unimpaired for the enjoyment of this and future generations.”