PRESIDENT CARTER AN RCGS MEDALLIST
Former United States president Jimmy Carter has been awarded the Lawrence J. Burpee medal, one of the RCGS’S highest honours, in recognition of his role in expanding the U.S. national parks system and ongoing work with Habitat for Humanity. John Geiger, RCGS CEO ( ABOVE, right), presented the former president with the medal in a small ceremony at Carter’s church in Plains, Georgia, on February 19. “It’s incredibly exciting for us to have this global leader, who has had a lifelong connection to Canada, as a Fellow of the Society,” says Geiger. “He represents the best of America, in many respects.” Carter served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. One of his signature achievements was passing the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which granted protection to more than 63 million hectares of land and created 17 million hectares of new parkland including Wrangell-st. Elias, America’s largest national park. Wrangell-st. Elias borders Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve, Canada’s Kluane National Park and Reserve and Tatshenshini-alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia. Together, these share a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, protecting a vast complex of high mountain peaks, wild rivers and the world’s largest non-polar icefield. Since 1984, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, have been actively involved with Habitat for Humanity, raising funds and participating in builds in 14 different countries. This summer, the Carters will take part in builds in Edmonton and Winnipeg as part of a nationwide Habitat Canada initiative to build 150 homes in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.