The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper held a ceremony Thursday to recognize its staff, volunteers, and community partners. The interpretive center has been awarded the Director's Team Accomplishment Award.

State BLM Director Don Simpson said that he couldn't nominate from his home state so he had to sit out the nomination process, but the center won the award anyway.

Directors can't nominate their state:

"So then the good news was--when was that, middle of October--we were fortunate enough to have all of our state directors, assistant directors, director here for what we call an executive leadership team meeting, and they got to see the trail center first-hand, and that's when the one state director that hadn't been here came up to me and said, 'Holy cow, this is even better than the write up. So, you did good, Mike, and everybody that worked together."

City Manager John Patterson, Mayor Paul Bertoglio and Councilwoman Kimberly Holloway were also at the ceremony. There was also a representative from each of Wyoming's entire Congressional delegation. Director Simpson acknowledged that the success of the center would be impossible without its volunteers and contributing organizations.

More dedication than money:

"This center hosts 25,000 visitors on an annual basis, 3,500 of those are school children, conducted 161 interpretive programs last year--that's a lot; somebody's busy almost every day, clearly--2,800 hours of time donated by docents, teaching assistants, living history re-enactors, educators, a lot of hours. On federal budgets, there's no way we could do that. This place wouldn't exist is it wasn't for the volunteers."

After certificates of recognition were handed out to staff, Interpretive Center Director Michael Abel said the trails interpretive center is one of only three in the country.

Baker City Oregon, Elko Nevada, Casper:

"Casper's a great location; we have great community support and we really are glad to be able to provide this facility through the BLM to the public here in Casper. All the trails came through here. They would've been following the Platte River so we have in this location the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, the California Trail, and the Pony Express Trail all crossed in this general vicinity, right here along the Platte River where Casper is today."

Mike Abel thanked the community organizations which also contributed to the success of the trails center including the Central Wyoming Model Railroaders Association and the Casper Museum Consortium.