Career Academy for Natural Resources – Foundational Series

Welcome to the Foundational Series in the Career Academy for Natural Resources!

Whether you have academic training in natural sciences and natural resource management or perhaps worked as a natural resource manager for another agency, some aspects of the way the National Park Service manages natural resources will probably be new to you. The modules in the Foundational Series will orient you to how the agency’s mission guides our resource management activities. Being an effective natural resource professional in the National Park Service requires more than just scientific knowledge, so this series also introduces you to topics such as law, planning, and communication. This can help you better understand how you and your work fit into the larger mission of the agency.

The Career Academy is not a formal, structured curriculum, but an array of learning opportunities that allow you to map your own path to professional growth. Start by taking the first two courses in Module 1 and creating your Professional Development Plan. From there, use the other six modules described below and the natural resource competencies to guide your next steps.

The Foundational Series is continually looking for resources and learning opportunities. Check back regularly to see what’s new!

Foundational Series in the Career Academy for Natural Resources

Jump to:
Module 1: Orientation and Development || Module 2: Interdisciplinary Resource Protection and Law || Module 3: Program and Project Management || Module 4: Collaboration || Module 5: Implementing Park Science || Module 6: Your Role in Park Planning || Module 7: Communication

Module 1: Orientation and Development

This series of on-line learning opportunities introduces the field of natural resource management as practiced in the National Park Service. Additional classes orient you to some of the resources and issues that you may work with during your career:

These classes are available to permanent, term, and seasonal employees with access to DOI Talent.
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Module 2: Interdisciplinary Resource Protection and Law

You might not have thought about it, but law and policy have a significant role in natural (and cultural) resource management. This course is currently being revised and updated.

After completing this class you will be able to:

  • Describe the legal framework that protects natural and cultural resources in the national park system
  • Explain why all employees need to know about park resources and values
  • Describe why every employee is responsible for protecting system unit resources
  • Use an integrated approach to identifying and communicating threats to resources so parks can address resource injuries
  • Use effective group processes to work with interdisciplinary groups of NPS staff, partners, and the public

Many of these Federal Laws that are Significant to the Natural Resource Career Field are covered in Interdisciplinary Resource Protection and Law.

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Module 3: Natural Resource Program and Project Management

Explore this module to become familiar with tools and processes for analyzing and accomplishing program and project work including budget, partnerships, and agreements. Even if you are just starting your career with the National Park Service, it’s not too early to begin developing your leadership skills.

The Exploring the Four Pillars activity introduces the framework for how projects are prioritized and organized in the Natural Resources Stewardship and Science Directorate (NRSS).

Search the Common Learning Portal and other training sources for:

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Module 4: Collaboration for Effective Teams and Partnerships

This module will help you develop the skills that enable you to establish, facilitate, participate in, and collaborate as part of a team.

Develop your interpersonal skills using tools such as:

Find policy guidance in the NPS Partnership Toolkit.

Other ways to build competency in this module:

  • Serve as a member of an interdisciplinary team or participate in an interdisciplinary project in a park
  • Serve in a job swap or take a detail
  • Attend town, community, or other public meetings
  • Become familiar with your local Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) and Research Learning Center (RLC)
  • Expand your professional network to include people from a variety of disciplines, agencies, and organizations

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Module 5: Implementing Park Science

Implementing Park Science provides an understanding of scientific methods, processes, and data analysis. Increase your capacity to review scientific literature, improve currency in analytical methods, enhance critical thinking skills for science-based decisions, and present complex technical information.

Two online classes have been developed:

These classes are available to permanent, term, and seasonal employees with access to DOI Talent.

Seek out additional relevant resources and learning opportunities in:

  • Adaptive management
  • Critical thinking
  • Data management and analysis
  • Modeling environmental and non-environmental processes
  • Scientific integrity and professional credibility
  • Structured decision making
  • Study planning
  • Systems thinking

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) offers classes in many of these topics. NCTC classes are open to NPS employees.

Stay current in your field by participating in professional organizations.
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Module 6: Your Role in Park Planning

In this module, you will explore your roles and responsibilities in the NPS planning process, become familiar with the basics of process laws and the compliance process, and learn how you can contribute to planning documents.

Search the Common Learning Portal for resources and training opportunities related to:

  • Planning and Compliance
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • The Planning, Environment and Public Comment System (PEPC)
  • Strategic Thinking and Planning

Additional ways to build competency in this module:

  • Observe a meeting focused on strategic planning, or on developing a resource stewardship strategy or other planning document
  • Observe a meeting focused on compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, etc.
  • Practice team work through distance learning, guided online and collaborative groups
  • Participate on an interdisciplinary planning team

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Module 7: Speaking for the Resource – Communication Skills

As a natural resource professional for the National Park Service, you not only need to be able to write technical papers and give presentations to your peers, but to communicate with park managers, co-workers from other disciplines, the public, policy makers, and other non-scientific audiences. The resources in this module present best practices for effective science communication through written, oral, and digital media. They prepare you to provide technical information to diverse audiences to inform science-based natural resource decisions.

Look for upcoming sessions in:

The Common Learning Portal has links to resources to help you broaden your communication skills including:

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