Camp host wins national honor
A long-time volunteer and campground host is being honored as the National Park Service's national "Outstanding Volunteer."
Tony Valois has been volunteering at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area since 2002. He devised an online wildflower identification database that helped him win the honor.
According to the National Parks Traveler, Valois' database is accessible for free on the internet, and allows the public to easily identify wildflowers in the Santa Monica Mountains based on just a few simple characteristics such as color and size.
"I found that even though visitors had field guides, it was hard for them to find the flowers quickly and easily," he said. "I wanted to create a search engine that was built on characteristics that people remember, like size, color, and shape."
Valois is now working on an iPhone applicaiton that will allow hikers to bring the database along with them on the trail.
He will receive the George B. Hartzog Jr. award Saturday at Santa Monica Mountains, and will later travel to Washington, D.C., to be formally honored by the Park Service leadership.