Civic engagement can take many forms and, practiced in a thoughtful and inclusive manner, can play a transformative role in American society. Many national parks and their partners apply civic engagement in innovative ways—inviting classroom teachers to help develop curricula using park and community resources, engaging community stakeholders in collectively redefining and telling disputed stories of place and history, engaging neighbors in stewardship projects, developing friends groups and cooperating associations, working collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders, involving residents of neighboring communities in the early stages of park planning, and seeking to attract new audiences to parks and other special places.
At the park or program level, the process of civic engagement can help build relationships with stakeholder groups and neighboring communities that lead to ongoing collaboration. Over the long term, such collaboration can enhance the relationships between parks and communities and create a sense of common future that benefits both parks and local communities.
As we approach the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service, civic engagement is also about reaching out to all Americans. Civic engagement is the means by which we ensure that the national park idea remains vital and relevant to all Americans.
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This website contains information and resources that can help you learn more about civic engagement and how it is practiced.
NPS Director’s Order #75A explains the agency’s commitment to civic engagement and public participation and the difference between them. See also Management Policies 2006, section 1.7.
Stronger Together: A Manual on the Principles and Practices of Civic Engagement (pdf), a NPS Conservation Study Institute publication, is intended for practitioners at all levels who may want to apply civic engagement strategically to their work.
“Do We Have All the Pieces? Strengthening the NPS through Civic Engagement” is a participant guide developed for a TEL broadcast. (pdf) A dvd of the broadcast is available by emailing email@example.com.
The Case Studies provide information about how some parks and partners have handled civic engagement. Consider the opportunities at your park for engaging neighboring communities and important stakeholders.
The Community Tool Box developed by the Northeast Region's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program provides guidance for working in and with communities to accomplish shared goals.
The Resources section lists many publications, websites, and organizations that provide information on civic engagement.
The Timeline of Recent and Past Accomplishments section provides information on the evolution of civic engagement in the Park Service.
If you have a question or comment about civic engagement, please Contact Us
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