Robert J. Steidl

Western National Parks Association has announced the winner of the renowned Emil W. Haury Lifetime Achievement Award, Robert J. Steidl, Ph.D., for his lifetime of dedication and innovation in the field of research in national parks.  

The Emil W. Haury Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to scholarly research in the national parks and monuments throughout a career or lifetime. Haury, a preeminent archaeologist and anthropologist, devoted his career to chronicling the prehistory of the Southwest, compiling the most complete cultural history of any region in North America. In 1938, he was instrumental in founding the Southwest Monuments Association, renamed Western National Parks Association in 2002.

“As we work together to support the future of our national parks, it is an honor to celebrate those exceptional individuals who protect and bring awareness to our majestic, irreplaceable outdoor spaces,” said Marie Buck, president and chief executive officer of WNPA, which has been a nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service (NPS) since 1938. “We congratulate and thank Dr. Robert Steidl for his decades of influential work in the field of wildlife conservation. His influence, passion and vision have left an indelible mark on research and stewardship in national parks.”

As a researcher, wildlife biologist, University of Arizona professor, and national park visionary, Steidl’s work has transformed the field of conservation and research in national parks. Throughout his career as both scientist and mentor, Steidl’s work has transcended systems, producing innovative research approaches that have proven critical to conservation during an era in which we confront and combat the threats that climate change poses to wildlife, natural resources and humanity.

Steidl’s life’s work has improved resource management and monitoring systems, with particular influence in nearly every federally protected area in southern Arizona, including WNPA’s partner parks Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Coronado National Memorial. With expansive influence in national parks, Steidl’s work will continue to shape and foster new generations of researchers, stewards and advocates. He has mentored 21 graduate students, 13 of whom have gone on to do national park–related research.

“Dr. Steidl has long championed data-based advocacy to improve conservation efforts and has encouraged academic and professional biologists to use their voices and their data to make a difference in our world,” said Michael Bogan, UArizona associate professor. “Over the last 40 years, Dr. Steidl has set a wonderful example for all of us, and the fruits of his efforts will continue to shape conservation in the Western United States for decades to come.”

Inspiring countless students, Steidl has evolved the study of humanity’s impacts on ecosystems throughout the Western United States, engaging and inspiring students at every level of his research and advocacy work.

“Dr. Steidl truly has a professional lifetime dedicated to research in our Western national parks,” said John Koprowski, WNPA board of directors research committee chair and dean and professor at Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. “He and his numerous students have had true impact on so many parks; the list of parks that he has not impacted is probably the shorter one!”

For more than 30 years, WNPA has recognized individuals and organizations who make exceptional contributions to national parks, public lands and WNPA’s mission. The award to Steidl follows an important tradition honoring extraordinary service in the field of scholarly research. This research helps ensure that national parks remain vital habitats and places that visitors can experience, enjoy and protect, now and for all time. 

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