Engaging the full spectrum of Americans in the stewardship of our parks and special places is now recognized as crucial to the future of our national park system. This handbook represents an important tool to assist National Park Service (NPS) managers and practitioners and their partners in developing programs that successfully connect diverse communities with their local national parks. It guides practitioners through an assessment that identifies gaps in readiness and informs the development of an effective engagement strategy.
What you’ll learn
- Context: National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis identifies relevancy as one of four priority areas for the NPS to address. Numerous opportunities to enhance relevancy can be found in current societal trends and challenges, including declining historical and cultural literacy, the disconnection of youth from nature, a more urbanized and diverse population, concerns over obesity and health, and the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies. These all provide opportunities to work with partners to diversify visitation, engage new communities, and introduce more of the American population to all that the national park system and its partners have to offer.
Exploring “Deep Engagement”: The NPS and its partners, through parks and programs, successfully offer opportunities for recreation and education that are valued by the public, yet most of these experiences are of relatively short-term duration and are often one-time or infrequent occurrences (e.g., family visits to national parks, school field trips, and interpretive programs).
Designing Effective Deep Engagement Programs: This section provides a guide to developing new programs and improving existing ones in order to successfully engage diverse communities.
Assessment of Park and Program Readiness: Organized around the six essential processes discussed above, the material that follows guides managers and practitioners through an assessment of park and program readiness to implement a deep engagement initiative.
Provide Feedback on This Model: The deep engagement approach presented here will always be a working model because the readiness assessment can serve as a vehicle for incorporating new learning.