Visitor and Resource Protection Education and Training Needs Assessment

Demica Vigil



The purpose of this education and training needs assessment study was to:

  1. Establish baseline VRP technical competencies for performance at various levels within the organization
  2. Assess the importance of these competencies to the performance of each VRP employee, given their present position and park situation
  3. Assess the level of preparedness of employees to perform these competencies
  4. Compare and determine the training gap between competency importance and perceived preparedness
  5. Determine the gaps existing between the importance assigned to, and perceived preparation to perform each competency through the wide range of duties within VRP

What you’ll find

More Information:

The 9 VRP Essential Core Competencies

  • Law Enforcement
  • Resource Protection
  • Emergency Management
  • Visitor and Employee Health and Safety
  • Leadership
  • Visitor Service and Public Use
  • Program Management
  • Wildland Fire and Aviation
  • Structural Fire

The VRP competencies were developed in cascading levels of technical competencies from broad to specific. Starting with the overarching Essential Core Competencies, which require a basic awareness level of knowledge by all VRP employees.

Next, the competencies were grouped into components within each core called Sub-core Competencies. These may be particular to a park or specific job duty.

Finally, all specific Technical Competencies, which break down in to detailed knowledge, skills, abilities or behaviors which define successful performance and again are often particular to the park unit, and job responsibility.

Defining technical competencies for all career fields within VRP allows for a menu of options to apply to the unique circumstance within each park unit and each job duty. This allows the employee, supervisor and manager to target the competencies applicable to their situation.


In January of 2012, a team began a process to identify technical competencies for all occupations within the Visitor and Resource Protection (VRP) career field. A group of subject matter experts (SMEs) representing the various offices and career occupations within VRP were consulted, including:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Emergency Services
  • Wilderness Management
  • Wildland Fire and Aviation
  • Structural Fire
  • Special Park Uses
  • Regulations
  • Risk Management
  • Public Health

The team also had NPS representatives from the three sister training centers, namely the NPS Law Enforcement Training Center (NPS LETC), National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), and the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center (Carhart).

In May of 2012, a collection of subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the National Park Service joined professionals from the Stephen T. Mather Training Center and Clemson University to assemble comprehensive technical competencies describing the necessary requirements to successfully perform the variety of jobs within the VRP ranks.

Over the next year these SMEs and advisers condensed and refined the comprehensive list resulting in the focused survey questions within the VRP Needs Assessment. This produced a more manageable list of competencies to be used in the survey.

The VRP Needs Assessment was addressed to Visitor and Resource Protection employees within the NPS and was conducted from September 3, 2013 to October 2, 2013. An online survey instrument was sent to all 3,150 NPS employees identified in the NPS human resource database (FPPS) or as requested by individuals having VRP duties. It included a list of 87 specific technical competency items depicting various aspects of being a professional Visitor and Resource Protection employee (the survey consisted of a total of 135 questions, including open-ended and demographic questions).

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