Medal Awarded: 
National
Year Awarded: 
1997

Ira J. Hutchison (1924-2011) joined the National Park Service in 1972 as Chief of Community Programs, National Capital Parks, a region of the Service administering parks, monuments and memorials in metropolitan Washington, D.C., Maryland and environs. In 1974, he was appointed Superintendent of National Capital Parks-East. And, early in 1977, he served as Superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area at the entrance to New York Harbor in New York and New Jersey--one of the Service's first major urban parks.

Ira was appointed Deputy Director of the National Park Service in May 1977. Among the responsibilities of the post, the Service's second highest, are the management and direction of the National Park System, which includes over 9,000 employees in approximately 330 park areas totaling more than 31 million acres in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Under his leadership, a number of new programs were initiated and others upgraded to provide greater opportunities for women and minorities to enjoy, be employed by, and do business with the National Park Service. A Special Park and Recreation Cooperative Education program was started involving 15 predominantly Black colleges and universities. This program provided training and employment for Black youth prior to graduation and career opportunities after graduation. Also during his tenure, a program designed to provide accelerated management training and follow-up career opportunities for women and minorities was organized. Those completing this training moved immediately into management positions in the National Park Service. Mr. Hutchison is also responsible for the creation of a division of programs for special populations within the directorate responsible for overall management and operation of the National Park System.

From 1950 to 1963, Hutchison served as Recreation Director at the Topeka State Hospital in Topeka, KS; 1963 to 1965 he worked with the Westside Rehabilitation Center for Narcotic Addicts in New York City; 1965-1967 he organized and administered recreation and rehabilitation programs for the emotionally disturbed at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York; and 1967-1972 he was employed by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in various managerial posts.

Mr. Hutchison was a two time Member of the Board of Directors, National Association of Recreation Therapists; President of the National Therapeutic Recreation Society; Editor of NTRS' official journal, "Recreation for Ill and Handicapped", and past member of Board of Trustees, NRPA. Ira has held professional memberships in local parks and/or recreation societies and associations including the District of Columbia, State of Kansas, City and State of New York, and State of Maryland. He is the founder of Roundtable Associates, Inc., an organization including distinguished African American Park, Recreation and Conservation Professional and lay persons.  He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors, the National Student Conservation Association, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

His is the author of many articles for professional publications including "Promoting Functional Play Patterns," "Where the Action Is," "What Price Glory?", "Leisure Time and the Riots," and "Sweet Bird of Youth." He served as a contributing author for two books: Recreation and Leisure Services for the Disadvantaged and Recreation and Special Population.  

Mr. Hutchison has received a number of awards including: the Meritorious Service Citation (1993) and the Distinguished Service Citation (1990) from the Department of the Interior. He is a charter member of the United States Senior Executive Service (SES) and recipient of the SES Presidential Rank Award, Meritorius Executive, 1992. He is also a charter member of the Kansas Hall of Fame for Parks and Recreation. Distinguished Service Award of the National Therapeutic Branch of the California State Park Recreation Society, Achievement Award from the Ethnic Minority Society and an Achievement Award from the National Council of the National Recreation and Park Association. In 1979 he received the NRPA's highest professional award, the Distinguished Professional Award.