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The Alliance of National Heritage Areas honors Heritage Champions

MDNHA board member Bubba O’Keefe, MDNHA executive director Dr. Rolando Herts, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, and ANHA Chairwoman Sara Capen at the 2024 ANHA Heritage Champion Awards Congressional Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator Hyde-Smith of Mississippi among five individuals honored for supporting and advancing America’s National Heritage Areas

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) was recently named as a 2024 Heritage Champion by the Alliance of National Heritage Areas’ (ANHA). The awards were presented during ANHA’s annual Congressional Breakfast and Awards Reception. Two senators, two representatives, and the leader of one of the 62 National Heritage Areas were recognized for having gone above and beyond to support and advance America’s National Heritage Areas.

“The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area congratulates all of the 2024 Heritage Champions, in particular Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, executive director of the Mississippi Delta NHA and director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. “As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Hyde-Smith helped get the National Heritage Area Act passed through that committee. This action ultimately paved the way for the Act to be passed by the Senate by unanimous consent in December 2022, which has sustained all National Heritage Areas through 2037.”

Awards were presented to Hyde-Smith, Dayton Sherrouse, executive director of the Augusta Canal NHA in Georgia for 28 years and founding member of ANHA, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Former Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY).

NHAs are administered by a local coordinating entity and receive matching funds through the National Park Service (NPS) but are not National Park units. Importantly, they do not impact the private property rights of existing landowners within or adjacent to an NHA designation. In addition to Congressionally authorized matching funds, NPS provides technical assistance and a strong partnership. NHAs match every federal dollar with an average of $5.50 in state, local, and private contributions, and a 2012 study determined that NHAs are responsible for a nearly $13 billion economic impact in the communities they serve.

To learn more about NHAs, their value, and their work, please visit To learn more about the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, visit

To learn more about The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, visit