MSU alumnus Daniel Wenk receives Alfred B. LaGasse Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects

Daniel Wenk, an alumnus of the Michigan State University Landscape Architecture program, was recently recognized as one of the few 2020 ASLA Honors recipients.

Landscape Architecture alumnus Daniel Wenk, retired superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.

Daniel Wenk, an alumnus of the Michigan State University Landscape Architecture program, was recently recognized as one of the few 2020 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Honors recipients.  

Wenk was awarded the prestigious Alfred B. LaGasse Medal that recognizes a landscape professional for their notable contributions to the management and conservancy of natural resources and public landscapes, and for the breadth of his professional contributions to the preservation and enhancement of our country’s cultural and natural resources 

He received this honor specifically for being a model leader of management and conservation in addition to his more than 40 years of experience working for National Park Service (NPS). 

"Dan is indeed a great landscape architect who used his architectural skills along with principled and strategic leadership to solve complex problems, inspire his teams, and shape the National Park Service itself,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, 18th director of the National Park Service and executive director of the U.C. Berkeley Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity. 

Because of Wenk’s career achievements, he was a clear candidate by many to receive this honor from the ASLA. 

Ken Salazar, former U.S. senator, secretary of the interior and Colorado attorney general said, “Because of his 43-year career as a fierce advocate for conservation and management of our federal public lands, I highly recommend that the American Society of Landscape Architects honor him with the LaGasse Medal. 

Wenk started his career with the National Park Service in 1975 as a landscape architect.  

During his career, he served as superintendent of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial from 1985 through 2001 where he oversaw natural and cultural resource management programs to ensure that the monument would be protected for years to come. 

In 2001, Wenk was appointed as the director of the NPS’s Denver Service Center where he managed and directed the National Planning, Design and Construction program. It was a significant program with approximately $1B worth of work underway at any given time during his tenure in the position.  

He served as deputy director of Operations for NPS in Washington, D.C., from 2007 through 2011. Wenk served as acting director of NPS for nine months in 2009. In these national roles, he received the Department of the Interior Secretary’s Executive Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank Award. 

Wenk was later appointed in 2011 as superintendent of Yellowstone National Park 

Caroline Byrd, executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said, “I can think of no one more deserving of an award for notable contributions to the management and conservancy of our natural resources and public landscapes than Dan Wenk. Thank you for this opportunity to endorse him for this award. 

After a very notable career as a landscape conservator, Wenk retired from his position at Yellowstone National Park on Mar. 30, 2019 

Did you find this article useful?