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Stewardship Atlas

The Stewardship Atlas gathers stewardship-enriching tools, from the basics of engagement to extraordinary and innovative ideas from parks across the country.  Resources that help cultivate engagement with parks. It’s a gathering place for ideas that also offers growing space for all to contribute their success stories and experiences. Since the NPS is vast, it’s difficult to know the range of stewardship efforts being used, and easy to miss opportunities to adapt successful practices for our specific situations. 

Below you’ll find sets of resources to strengthen ties and grow stewardship with park neighbors and visitor groups. If you do not see your program listed and would like it to be, please submit an idea to the Stewardship Atlas. (Submissions are vetted on a quarterly basis.) To discuss these and other ideas with your peers, please join the CLP Commons group.

If you’re interested in jumping to a particular set of resources, please use these shortcuts:

Sparking Curiosity

  • Community Outreach Program. Some parks have community outreach as a dedicated program within the Interpretive Division. See Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s examples and reach out to Lucien Sonder of the Interpretive Division as the Community Outreach Branch Manager for assistance.
  • Events list from park. Want to know what’s happening at any National Park site on any day to plan you visit? The NPS Service wide event calendar allows for one stop shopping to find any event at any NPS site.
  • Find a National Park.  Use this interactive map to find a park by it’s name, state, or theme.
  • La Ranger Troca (Case Study) LA Ranger Troca is the mobile visitor center for the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s mission is to bring the parks to the people of Los Angeles County.
  • Park Brochure. Unigrid brochures are on the front lines of storytelling in the National Park Service. It is a comprehensive graphic design system that standardizes formatting and production allowing focus on content and creativity while conveying a strong visual identity for the NPS. 
  • Park Social Media. Use social media to reach new audiences and create a vibrant community of park advocates. This site provides the basics of NPS social media options, links to guiding policy, and more.
  • Recreation.gov. Rec.gov is your gateway to explore America’s outdoor and cultural destinations in your zip code and across the country. We provide tools and tips to discover new adventures through a one-stop shop for inspiration and ideation, trip planning, information sharing, and reservations.
  • Visitor Use. Visitor use and recreation research examines how people physically move throughout a park, what they do while in a park, and how they perceive their experiences. This page provides useful links to various visitor use research options and case studies.
  • Visitor Use Studies. social science methods provide us with tools to understand how visitor behavior and help manage the park. This link provides example studies done by Yosemite analyzing visitor behavior and use.

Engaging Audiences

  • Bark Ranger program. Engaging animal lovers, dog lovers – each park has a different flavor. Bark ranger Gracie at Glacier National Park is a resource management helper.
  • Engaging Students. Daniel Calloway of Cuyahoga Valley serves as a park ambassador to his community visiting and talking to people at high schools, community colleges, libraries, African American youth groups, etc.
  • Junior Rangers. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national. Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service “family” as Junior Rangers.
  • Kids in Parks. National parks are great places to explore anything kids can imagine. Go on an outdoor adventure. Walk in the footsteps of famous people. Take in unique scenery. Explore new interests. Experience real places you may have only heard about. But most of all, national parks are places where you can have fun and create memories that last a lifetime. 
  • Living History. Living history offers a unique engagement opportunity to connect visitors to the history on a personal and human level. Living history programs thrive on volunteer service and are centered around engaging the public. The link to Minute Man NHP is an excellent example of a robust program resource.
  • Night Spoken. A Grand Canyon National Park effort from 2018. For eight nights, a vintage cassette recorder was placed on a table at the 2018 Grand Canyon Star Party for visitors to find. A sign next to the old machine invited visitors to record a message to the year 2218, where stars can no longer be seen due to light pollution. They looked up. And they left these responses, which are available via Facebook.
  • Sporting in Parks. With more than 400 national parks and National Park Service programs and partnerships working with communities across the country, there are endless opportunities to recreate in parks and in locations closer to home. Recreation and sporting in parks can be a great way to connect with the community and engage audiences.

Fueling Education

  • Ancestral Land Conservation Corps. Engages underrepresented Indigenous youth and young adults in conservation service programs that reconnect participants to the land, their cultural heritage, and their traditions.
  • Citizen Science projects. Citizen Science provides a range of opportunities for the public to learn about nature and contribute scientific information to parks. Learn more from this example of the multi-park Dragonfly Mercury Project. There are many opportunities to become a citizen scientist, so visit here to join an existing project.
  • Curriculum-Based Interpretation Programs.  Parks collaborate with schools and educators to set up specific learning opportunities to meet curriculum requirements. Reach out to your park Interpretive Division or browse pre-existing lesson plans by visiting the link above.
  • Fish and Feathers Internship. Fish and Feathers is a summer internship opportunity funded by Environment for the Americas.  In summer 2022 American Memorial Park is hosting 2 interns who will lead fishing and birding activities.  The program at AMME works to connect with non-traditional visitors through unique and alternative programming.
  • Let’s Go Fishing. This is a new program at American Memorial Park that works to highlight the Junior Ranger Angler program as well as encourage non-traditional visitors to come to the park.  The program will include the creation of a “library” of fishing gear that can be checked out by visitors to use on park grounds.  It will also include working with local fishers and to share their craft and lead clinics highlighting traditional and modern fishing practices.  By building relationships with the fishing community, we hope to work with them to raise awareness of the park’s mission while supporting sustainable fishing practices. Please contact Brooke Nevitt for more information.
  • Mosaics in Science Internships. The Mosaics in Science Internship Program provides youth that are under-represented in natural resource science career fields with on-the-ground, science-based, work experience with the National Park Service.
  • Next Generation Ranger. A program to enable young people interested in a career with the NPS to discover the agency and its different operational divisions, by providing college students an experiential, engaging, and supportive learning and working opportunity at Saguaro National Park. A collaboration between Saguaro National Park and Friends of Saguaro.
  • Open Outdoors for Kids. Open Outdoors for Kids is a partnership with National Park Foundation that brings 4th graders to the park.
  • Research Learning Centers. Research Learning Centers help make science possible by supporting researchers who study parks. They also make that research accessible to visitors, and applicable to conservation.
  • Scientists in Parks. The Scientists in Parks is a work experience program places aspiring professionals across the National Park System to work on natural resource management needs.

Warming Connection

  • Art in the Park. This program is done differently at many different parks, however it almost always focuses on bringing visitors to the park to create art.  At American Memorial Park the emphasis has been on working with local artists.  Participants sign up ahead of time and attend an art lesson led by an artist who specializes in a specific medium.  All supplies are provided and the artists are paid. Programs supports local artists as well as provides new opportunities for visitors to connect with the park creatively. 
  • Artists in Residence There are programs for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media. Programs vary, but residencies are typically 2 to 4 weeks in length and most include lodging. Often artists are invited to participate in park programs by sharing their art with the public.  The Artist-in-Residence program is co-managed by the Interpretation Program and the VIP Program, with artists signing up as official volunteers. Each park creates their own unique program; establishing program goals, residency length, artist mediums (visual and literary art, film, music, installation art, performance) residency requirements and benefits.  Some are managed solely by the NPS and some are co-managed with partners. If you’re interested in learning more please reach out to Shari Orr and Kerry Olson.
  • Night Spoken. A Grand Canyon National Park effort from 2018. For eight nights, a vintage cassette recorder was placed on a table at the 2018 Grand Canyon Star Party for visitors to find. A sign next to the old machine invited visitors to record a message to the year 2218, where stars can no longer be seen due to light pollution. They looked up. And they left these responses, which are available via Facebook.
  • Weddings in Parks. Parks as wedding venues is a unique way to create emotional connections and bonds with the community. Redwood National and State Parks provide and example of how to accommodate that use.

Carrying the Torch

  • AmeriCorps.  AmeriCorps is an independent agency of the United States government that engages more than five million Americans in service through various service corps, grant funds, and other national initiatives. The agency’s mission is “to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.” They provide an excellent conduit to foster stewardship and engage diverse workforces.
  • AmeriCorps Seniors. AmeriCorps Seniors is a program open to individuals 55 and over.
  • Ancestral Land Conservation Corps. Engages underrepresented Indigenous youth and young adults in conservation service programs that reconnect participants to the land, their cultural heritage, and their traditions.
  • Community Volunteer Ambassadors: A partnership with Conservation Legacy. Stewards Individual Placements is excited to enter the fifth year of a unique partnership model to facilitate the Community Volunteer Ambassador Program (CVA) for the National Park Service. The CVA program combines the strength of a national leader in conservation service with the National Park Service in order to train a diverse group of emerging leaders to assist park units in building lasting connections to local communities. Over sixty young professionals will serve as CVA members for 50 week terms at NPS sites across the country from Saipan to Florida, starting on February 7th, 2022. Ambassadors will serve under the guidance and mentorship of the Service’s Interpretation, Education and Volunteers Directorate, but will be directly supervised by a designated NPS site supervisor at the site where they will be stationed.
  • Experience Services Program. The Experience Services Program provides cooperative agreements with nonprofit organizations to utilize the talents of older workers (ages 55+) to fill workforce gaps, accomplish unexpected or non-routine projects, prevent skill attrition, and mentor newer employees.
  • Flexible Hiring Authorities.  This list of authorities is provided to educate hiring managers of hiring flexibilities that exist under federal human resource law.
  • Greening Youth Program. Greening Youth is an internship program for youth of diverse backgrounds to serve in a wide variety of resource management roles.
  • HistoriCorps. HistoriCorps is a volunteer program engaging volunteers in saving historic places. It provides hands-on experience preserving historic structures on public lands, and the opportunity to learn preservation skills with HistoriCorps field staff.
  • Native Conservation Corps. Native American youths engage in conservation work in national park units and extend their experiences into their communities.  The corps members become dual ambassadors between the NPS and Native American tribes. Contact Todd Hisaichi for more information.
  • Next Generation Ranger. A program to enable young people interested in a career with the NPS to discover the agency and its different operational divisions, by providing college students an experiential, engaging, and supportive learning and working opportunity at Saguaro National Park. A collaboration between Saguaro National Park and Friends of Saguaro.
  • NPS Academy. NPS Academy is an innovative, experiential learning program designed to introduce undergraduate and graduate students, ages 18-35, to career opportunities with the National Park Service. This program aligns with the National Park Service’s goal to enhance professional and organizational excellence in the next century by recruiting and retaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of the nation (A Call to Action, 2013). Interns attend a week-long orientation over spring break and serve in 12-week summer internships tailored to various NPS career tracks. Summer internships are available in a variety of fields, including visitor services, education, resource management – and many more! NPS Academy is a Student Conservation Association program conducted in partnership with the National Park Service with philanthropic support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation and additional support from the Teton  Science Schools.
  • NPS Internal Employment Listings. Anyone can create a job posting on InsideNPS. Learn how to do that with this link.   How to Create Job, Detail, and Internal Postings (sharepoint.com) 
  • NPS Positions (USA Staffing). Want to hire on the next generation of stewards as a federal employee? Here are some resources to help with the process.
  • Pathways Program. The Pathways Program offers current students and recent graduates paid internships and streamlined hiring programs to explore federal career opportunities.
  • Re-employed Annuitant program. – A program to bring back retired NPS employees part time to help fill operational gaps and provide a transfer of knowledge to the new hires and next generation of stewards. Please also see the Flexible Hiring Authorities sharepoint site.
  • Teacher Ranger Teacher Program. The National Park Service Teacher Ranger Teacher (TRT) program is an extended professional development opportunity for educators from K-12 schools to learn about the resources and educational materials available through the National Park Service. Learn more about the program and available opportunities.
  • Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. The TTAP program teaches participants to preserve cultural resources and crucial infrastructure of national park sites, and in so doing, preserve craft skills necessary for ensuring these sites continue to inspire and educate the next generation.
  • Volunteers in Parks (VIP) Program.  The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups as part of the Volunteers-In-Parks program. Learn more about the laws and policies that guide our volunteer programs as well as volunteer opportunities.

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