Stronger Together: A Manual on the Principles and Practices of Civic Engagement

NPS Stewardship Institute

Updated Stewardship Institute


Civic engagement builds and sustains the relationships that are necessary for the National Park Service and its partners to collectively accomplish conservation stewardship over the long term. Often use interchangeably with “community engagement,” civic engagement encompasses a set of diverse techniques that can be used to connect with the American public and develop effective, lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.

In recent years, the NPS and its partners have undertaken various activities that have led to a deeper reflection on the importance of civic engagement in helping the public participate in dialogue and reflect on the value of American places and their resources and stories. The cumulative learning from these activities has informed this manual.

What You’ll Find

The objectives of the manual are to:

  • Create a common understanding of civic engagement
  • Clarify the connections between civic engagement, partnership building and efforts to enhance relevancy
  • Discuss the benefits that civic engagement brings to the NPS and partners
  • Strengthen understanding of its many applications
  • Share promising practices and lessons learned
  • Encourage more civic engagement in interpretation and education, resource management and planning
  • Stimulate broader strategic application of civic engagement throughout the NPS

Primary Audience

Educators and interpreters who are managing and developing programs with parks, schools and neighboring communities and interacting with the public.

The manual is also intended to be useful to managers and other program staff who are interested in integrating civic engagement into their organizational programs.

For some readers of this manual, civic engagement may be new territory; others may want to expand what they are doing or apply civic engagement more strategically. The manual in intended to support practitioners at all levels of experience.

Read Stronger Together: A Manual on the Principles and Practices of Civic Engagement

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  1. This is an excellent primer on Civic Engagement. It first defines CE within the current (circa 2009) context before providing examples from a variety of disciplines across the National Park Service of successful CE scenarios. The examples are far-reaching, from education and interpretation to resource management, volunteerism to park-planning. The manual concludes with a section that features a step-by-step process toward building a successful CE program at your park.


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