10 years of ‘Partners in the Park’ engages students in national park stewardship

Participants in "Partners in the Park" national program that started at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Location and date of submitted photo not specified. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — For 10 years university students have been engaged in service with the National Park Service through a national program that started at Southern Utah University: “Partners in the Parks.” The program fosters lifelong stewardship, responsibility and resilience in the students consistent with the Park Service’s Centennial goal of creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.

“This program is all about helping the youth of America appreciate the value of the national parks,” Paul Roelandt, superintendent of Cedar Breaks National Monument, said.

Participants in Partners in the Park , Location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University , St. George News , Cedar City News
Participants in “Partners in the Park” national program that started at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Location and date of submitted photo not specified. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News / Cedar City News

In 2006, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Southern Utah University’s Honors Program partnered to author and successfully apply for the Centennial grant through the efforts of Roelandt, Honors Program Director Matt Nickerson and the university’s Edge Program Director Todd Peterson.

Over the next few years, the team worked with colleagues from the Park Service and the National Collegiate Honors Council to build “Partners in the Parks.”

The program offers an outdoor-centric weeklong immersive and academic experience for select honors students from different colleges and universities across the country.

“For students, this experience provides a great vehicle for exploring the country,” Honors Program Associate Director Jayci Bash said. “We should be tourists in our own country before we visit other places. To see our nation’s most treasured places is a huge benefit for these undergrads.”

Participants in "Partners in the Park" national program that started at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Location and date of submitted photo not specified. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News / Cedar City News
Participants in “Partners in the Park” national program that started at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Location and date of submitted photo not specified. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News / Cedar City News

The projects the students engage in develop their own stewardship of the park as they help administrators with behind-the-scenes tasks of running operations. They are also taught how to recreate responsibly and experience the park through hikes, climbs and tours.

“The next generation of stewards are the ones who have the power to protect these pieces of natural wonderlands,” Roelandt said. “Through ‘Partners in the Parks’ we will continue to offer academic adventures to students and are hopefully starting a new phase of internship opportunities.”

Since its inception, “Partners in the Parks” has engaged more than 500 collegiate honors students in 37 national parks, monuments and recreation areas. Through it, college students gain problem-solving skills, are given opportunities to think critically and enhance their ability to be resilient.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

1 Comment

  • .... August 21, 2016 at 4:33 am

    This is a great program with multitudes of positive outcome. discussion and understanding of our national parks is important for all of us in order to help preserve our park lands

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.