Recipient Biography

Chris Jarvi


Born the son of a forest ranger, Chris Jarvi (1944-2013) grew up with a deep understanding of the importance of the relationship between man and nature. His father instilled in him the importance of finding ways to intelligently balance recreation use with resource preservation.


In 2003, Jarvi was appointed as Associate Director for Partnerships and Visitor Experience for the National Park Service in Washington, DC. In this capacity, he was given nationwide responsibility for Partnerships and Philanthropy, Interpretation/Education, Media Development, Volunteerism, Tourism, Youth Programs, Technical Assistance, Long Distance Trails, Wild and Scenic Rivers and, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.


Given that this was a newly-created position upon his arrival, he commenced to reorganize the Partnership Office and the Tourism Office, consolidate the interpretive and media programs, and reorganize the service models of both the Harper’s Ferry Media Center and the Job Corps programs. He oversaw the creation of the Service’s first comprehensive Interpretation and Education Renaissance Action Plan which set the foundation for I & E Service-wide programming in the future. He then served as an advisor to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s office in helping to create a 21st Century Conservation Corps for youth.


To increase partnership capacity in the Service, he created new tools such as agency policies on donations and fundraising and cooperating associations, new guidance on partnership construction, the creation of partnership competencies which have been included in Service-wide training and job descriptions, model partnership agreements for use throughout the Service and training programs to help field personnel to use these tools. He oversaw the development of the first MOU between the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation in this partnership’s 35-year history.


Jarvi formerly served for 22 years as Director of Community Services for the City of Anaheim. There, he supervised a staff of more than 200 full-time employees and more than 420 part-time workers. His department consisted of Anaheim's 43 parks, six public libraries, three public swimming pools, a multipurpose stadium, five community recreation buildings, two senior citizen centers, a community service center, a therapeutic recreation center, 74,000 street trees, two golf courses, a museum and an outdoor theater.


He earned his Master of Science degree from the University of California, Davis and a Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Because he believed in giving back to his profession, Jarvi was a member of the California Parks and Recreation Society starting in 1967. He served as President in 1987 during which time he also served on the League of California Cities’ Board of Directors. He then went on to serve as the President of the National Park and Recreation Association in 1997-98 after having served on a number of important committees including strategic planning, partnerships and alliances, fundraising, and governance.


Jarvi was recognized with professional honors including an APRS Professional Award for Meritorious Service (1991), a NRPA Distinguished Fellow Award (1992), and the California Park and Recreation Society's highest recognition, the Fellowship Award (1995). He was named a fellow of the American Academy for Parks and Recreation and received the Academy's distinguished Cornelius Amory Pugsley Award in 2000.