Park Institute of America To Inspire Stewardship For Future Generations

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Release Date:  March 3, 2016


The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is announcing the establishment of a Park Institute of America. The institute is a collaboration with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and will be located on Duke’s campus in Durham, North Carolina.  The goal of the Institute is to engage in broad conversations about the importance of parks and protected areas as a vital component of society.  The Institute will advocate for parks and other important natural and historic places through public education and will make practical recommendations to advance public policy.

The Coalition, founded in 2003, is an organization of over 1100 former and current employees of the National Park Service, and is a natural partner for this endeavor.   Collectively its membership represents over 30,000 years of stewardship and “voices of experience.”    Included among its members are former Directors, deputy directors, regional directors, and hundreds of superintendents and individuals who managed various aspects of park operations and programs.  The Coalition studies, educates, speaks and acts for the preservation and protection of the National Park System and mission-related programs of the National Park Service.

“The idea for this Institute had its origins almost 10 years ago with some of the Coalition’s founding members,” said Coalition Chair Maureen Finnerty.  “It has taken years of hard work by many dedicated individuals, and we are delighted that we have found a home at Duke.  I think it is a wonderful fit.”

Maureen Finnerty and Jeff Vincent, the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke Univ

Maureen Finnerty and Jeff Vincent, the Nicholas School of the
Environment at Duke Univ

“Locating the independent institute at Duke allows us to leverage the university’s leadership in environmental research and education circles,” Finnerty said. The Park Institute of America will join the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Organization for Tropical Studies as leading independent nonprofit conservation organizations located at Duke. The university’s location in the diverse Research Triangle region of North Carolina will afford timely opportunities for educational outreach to students traditionally underrepresented in the environmental field.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues at the Park Institute to advance the study of critical issues facing America’s parks and protected areas today, and to advance understanding of these issues by students and the public,” said Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at Duke.  “Our parks and protected areas represent extraordinary environmental, social and scientific assets. The benefits of this work will extend far beyond park borders.  These parks and protected areas represent extraordinary scientific assets.”

The Institute will be an independent, non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors, and will actively seek partnerships with a wide variety of entities engaged in the protection of parks and protected areas.  It will sponsor research and analysis, host forums and seminars, publish reports, stimulate dialogue, and get information into the hands of the decision-makers that need it.

“The vision of the Institute is to engage the public in conversations about the value of these special places and their significant contribution to our quality of life,” Finnerty said.  “I think it is an idea whose time has come.”

Click here to read the Proposal for a Park Institute of America.

For further information on the Institute and how to donate please contact:


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This page last modified: March 19, 2016 @ 7:17 pm