NPS Core Values – The Cornerstone of Everything We Do


The NPS core values are commitments – or deeply held beliefs – for how we, as employees, accomplish the NPS mission. Core values influence how we do our work, how we interact with each other, and how we are recognized as an agency both internally and externally. In essence, core values capture the culture and attitude of the agency. Fundamentally, they are inherent in everything we do.

NPS has 5 core values. An easy way to remember them is “RITES”:

  • Respect – We embrace each other’s differences so that we may enrich the well-being of everyone.
  • Integrity – We deal honestly and fairly with the public and one another.
  • Tradition – We are proud of it. We learn from it. We are not bound by it.
  • Excellence – We strive continually to learn and improve so that we may achieve the highest ideals of public service.
  • Shared Stewardship – We share a commitment to resource stewardship with the global preservation community.

What You’ll Learn

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Recall the 5 NPS core values
  • Comprehend why different values exist for different organizations
  • Recognize how core values are distinct drivers of organizational culture

Dig Deeper

After reading the material above, reflect on the following questions. Jot down your thoughts. Consider sharing this page with a colleague or a work group for an insightful discussion.

1. The NPS core values are our guiding principles. As such, every NPS employee should know them by heart. Take a moment now to commit to memory the NPS core values. Test yourself by reciting them to a friend or colleague.

2. Choose one of the following organizations and find their core values. How do their core values support their mission? How do their core values influence their organizational identity and culture? Compare their core values to the NPS core values. What similarities and differences exist and why? [Note: the numbered notations are for use in the GOAL Academy]

  • Google (1)
  • U.S. Forest Service (1)
  • Amazon (2)
  • Exxon Mobil (2)
  • CVS Health (3)
  • Whole Foods (3)
  • Verizon (4)
  • Starbucks (4)
  • United Airlines (5)
  • Apple (5)
  • General Motors (6)
  • Hilton Hotels (6)
  • Nordstrom (7)
  • FedEx (7)
  • Walt Disney (8)
  • JP Morgan Chase (8)
  • McDonald’s (9)
  • U.S. Army (9)
  • Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (10)
  • Samsung Electronics (10)

3. List 2 to 3 of your personal values or deeply held beliefs that guide your own moral compass. How do they compare to the NPS core values?

4. In your opinion, are the NPS core values woven into everything we do? As an agency? At your park or office? On your team? In your individual work? Take a moment to reflect on whether every action, at every level of the agency, carries with it the intent, spirit, and function of the NPS core values. If not, what needs to change to make our work align with the NPS core values?

Still Hungry?

Here’s more to spark your thinking on this topic:

NOTE: There is a limit of viewing 4 online articles per month at Harvard Business Review without a paid subscription. If you click on the link to this article, it will count toward your limit.

Write a Review

  1. Rating:

Arrow pointing upwards. Click this icon to go back to the top of the page.