Natural Resource Stewardship Competencies

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Training and Development Program is dedicated to developing curricula based on competencies. The NPS Training and Development Program defines a competency as “a measurable pattern of knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics that an individual needs to perform work roles or occupational functions successfully.”

Through competency-based training and developmental opportunities, the natural resource career field works to enhance employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities for their personal and professional success.

Essential Competencies for Natural Resource Stewardship:

Communication: An ability to effectively communicate complex, technical, or controversial natural resource information to diverse audiences through a variety of media.
NPS Resource Stewardship: The ability to effectively apply laws, policies, regulations, and guidelines in concert with scientific knowledge to protect park resources and ecological systems.
Planning and Compliance: The ability to apply scientific knowledge to identify and define natural resource issues, and to develop and evaluate alternative management strategies.
Professional Credibility: Demonstrated expertise in and contributions to science and scientific endeavors which are recognized by peers in Government agencies and the academic community as providing a strong foundation and leadership in the natural resources work performed.
Project & Program Management: The ability to apply knowledge of scientific concepts and NPS programs to plan, implement, and/or administer natural resource projects.
Scientific Knowledge: In-depth knowledge of current ecological and scientific principles with an ability to evaluate results of research that can be used to resolve diverse and complex park natural resource issues.
Scientific Method: The knowledge and ability to apply sound scientific approaches and appropriate methods to resolve natural resource management issues, including the design, conduct, and evaluation of inventory, monitoring, and research projects.

Targeted Sub-competencies

Within the essential competencies, the natural resource career field has a refined array of competencies targeted to experience level (Entry/Developmental, Journey, or Advanced) and whether you are a Discipline Specialist or a Program Manager.

Discipline Specialists

Natural resource discipline specialists include: biologists, ecologists, botanists, fishery biologist, wildlife biologist, physical scientists, geologists, range management specialists, hydrologists, and natural resource specialists. Employees in these occupations may have varied responsibilities and assignments including fire and fuels management; environmental management; natural resources planning; and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) management.Discipline specialist competencies apply to all these positions and more. You can explore sub-competencies at the Entry/Developmental, Journey, and Advanced levels for each of the Essential Competencies above. Use the competencies to create your Professional Development Plan.

Program Managers

A natural resources program manager serves as a senior principal adviser in natural resource management and is responsible for program development and implementation. The program may include, but is not limited to, vegetation, wildlife, sensitive species, exotic and pest species, fisheries, air and water quality, soils, geology, hydrology, paleontology, other physical sciences, and range management. The positions are usually filled with one of the occupational series pertinent to the park’s resources and themes.Major duties of the program manager include directing natural resource management activities involving sensitive and complex issues that may impact a wide variety of park issues. Managers represent the superintendent when working with others on resource stewardship issues. They carry out program management duties by developing work plans and schedules, scopes of work, cost estimates, and proposals and/or grants to justify funding requests and accomplish goals. They may administer and track project funds and prepare accomplishment reports. They also develop and implement long-range plans for the inventory, evaluation, documentation, preservation, research, and interpretation of the natural resources within the appropriate mission, objectives, and resources contexts. Program managers identify research needs, prepare requests for proposals or statements of work, provide oversight for research projects, and evaluate research results for management implications.

If this describes the work you do, or that you aspire to do, explore the Program Manager competencies at the Entry/Developmental, Journey, and Advanced levels. Use these competencies to create your Professional Development Plan.

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