Anza Trail Blog

Anza Trail Volunteer Phil Valdez Receives Department of Interior Award

by Hale Sargent

Tagged as:   Volunteers

Phil Valdez Jr Receives the Citizen's Award for Exceptional Service

Phil Valdez, Jr., long-time volunteer historian for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, received the Department of Interior Citizen's Award for Exceptional Service in San Francisco on July 15.

Associate Regional Director Stephanie Burkhart and Anza Trail Superintendent Naomi Torres presented Valdez with the award in a surprise ceremony during one of his regular visits to the Pacific West Regional Office.

The Citizen's Award for Exceptional Service is a departmental honor that recognizes outstanding performance by a private citizen, organizational partner, or volunteer. Valdez's award recognizes his 12+ years of service to the Anza Trail, including time spent as a goodwill ambassador for the trail in northern Mexico.

Full citation of Valdez's award follows:


In recognition of voluntary service for the National Park Service and demonstrating exceptional leadership in expanding international awareness of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

Mr. Valdez has served as a historian advisor to the National Park Service for more than twelve years. Valdez is a descendant of Juan Bautista de Anza’s courier; he has logged hundreds of hours and thousands of miles retracing the 1775-76 Anza Expedition, identifying historic campsite locations and increasing the public’s knowledge of the first overland colonizing expedition to California. While concurrently serving as president of the Anza Society, Inc., a volunteer organization, Valdez organized conferences for citizen-historians to share research and invite others to learn about our country’s Spanish colonial heritage. His 2013 conference in Monterey, CA, highlighted the Anza Trail in Fort Ord National Monument. His 2014 conference in the Mexican state of Sonora brought dozens of U.S.-based Anza enthusiasts together with Mexican historians and several state and local community officials.

Building on his relationship with Mexican Government officials from the state of Sonora, Mr. Valdez served as a symbolic representative of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail on several trips to Sonora in 2013 and 2014. During this visits, he developed strong relations with the Mayor of Arizpe, Sonora, and several government representatives from the state of Sonora, Mexico. He spent countless hours sharing his extensive knowledge of the Anza Expedition and more importantly catalyzing an interest in presenting the Anza Expedition story in Sonora, Mexico. As a result of his efforts the Mexican agency Turismo Sonora developed La Ruta Turística de Anza, a counterpart to the Anza Trail in the U.S. Also, the town of Arizpe, Sonora, installed an interpretive wayside presenting Juan Bautista de Anza’s burial site. While the National Park Service assumes no role in the work of its counterpart agencies in Mexico, Mr. Valdez was able to serve as an honorary representative and goodwill ambassador for their efforts.

For outstanding contributions to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Phil Valdez, Jr., is granted the Citizen’s Award for Exceptional Service of the Department of the Interior.


Phil Valdez Jr Receives the Citizen's Award for Exceptional Service

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