Robert Stanton to Receive Murie Spirit of Conservation Award 

Lia Cheek to be Recognized as Murie Rising Leader

MOOSE, Wyo. – Teton Science Schools is pleased to announce that Robert “Bob” G. Stanton will be recognized with the Murie Spirit of Conservation Award and Lia Cheek with the Murie Spirit of Conservation Rising Leader Award. The event will be held virtually on August 11, 2020

Stanton was the first African American to be appointed as Director of the National Park Service, serving from 1997-2001. He was also the first career civil service employee appointed to the position since Russel E Dickson. Confirmed by the United States Senate and appointed by President Bill Clinton, Stanton served as the 15th National Park Service Director. Beginning with his appointment by Interior Secretary Stewart Lee Udall in 1962 as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Teton National Park, he has dedicated his life’s work to improving the preservation and management of the nation’s natural and cultural resources. 

As Director, Stanton supported staff diversity and inclusion as well as the establishment of parks and programs to recognize the struggles, achievements and contributions of women and minorities in the development of our nation. He improved the agency’s public programs to better serve minority populations and our youth. Under his leadership and the stellar work of a highly skilled, motivated and dedicated staff, a number of new programs were inaugurated including the National Resource Challenge, a comprehensive plan to revitalize and expand the NPS natural resource programs. 

During his decades-long career, Stanton received five honorary doctorate degrees, and numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of the Interior’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. Though retired from the NPS, he continues to devote much of his time to various professional and civic affairs, serving currently and in recent years as a leader in the Student Conservation Association, Guest Services, Inc, the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation, Environmental Law Institute, Rosenwald Park Campaign and the Endangered Species Coalition. 

Teton Science Schools’ Executive Director, Chris Agnew stated, “Bob Stanton is a hero to American public land and conservation. Beyond his leadership in the National Park Service, his legacy will be in his mentorship for so many conservation leaders now and years into the future.”

Lia Cheek is currently the National Director of Field Campaigns for the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC). She has a bachelor’s degree in ecology from Dartmouth College and spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, where she focused on community-based marine conservation. She’s worked on marine conservation issues in the Asia Pacific region with RARE, and with Foreign Policy experts during her time at The Brookings Institute. 

During her time with ESC, Cheek has mobilized member groups, staff, and volunteers to introduce state legislation in support of wildlife connectivity and advance key campaigns in support of the conservation of orca, wolves, and pollinators. Cheek improves the efficacy of ESC’s operations through strong processes and an inclusive organizational culture. This includes supporting ESC’s leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion and in the decolonization of the environmental conservation movement. With international experience in conservation policy and wildlife conservation, Cheek brings her strengths in biological research, project management, community organizing, and cross-cultural understanding to her work with ESC. Currently Cheek is a second year Master’s student in American University’s Global Environmental Policy Program.  

The Murie Spirit of Conservation Awards ceremony is an annual celebration of conservation leadership honoring individuals who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the protection of wildlife and wild places. The Murie Spirit of Conservation Award recognizes a person whose life work demonstrates a commitment to conservation, civility and community. Recent awardees have included Jimmy Chin, Bert Raynes, Sally Jewell, Harrison Ford, John Turner,, Luther Propst, Dr. George Schaller, Dr. Robert Krear, Gretchen Long, and Addie Donnan. For more information, visit

About The Murie Legacy
As a founding board member of Teton Science Schools, Mardy Murie’s legacy is carried forth on The Murie Ranch, in every Teton Science Schools’ program and the 106 million acres of federal public lands designated and protected as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act championed by Mardy. There were four Muries: Mardy and Louise (half sisters) and Olaus and Adolph (half-brothers). Mardy and Olaus married in 1924 and Louise and Adolph married in 1932. All were great biologists, writers and leaders in the conservation movement. 

About Teton Science Schools

Teton Science Schools (TSS) inspires curiosity, engagement and leadership through transformative place-based education. For more than 15,000 learners per year, the place-based approach increases engagement, learning, and community impact. Located on four campuses in Jackson Hole, WY and Teton Valley, Idaho, TSS programs include Mountain Academy, an independent school serving students preschool through 12th-grade students, field education for schools and visitors from around the world, educational wildlife tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, educator development and a national network of rural, place-based education schools.