IDP Home Page About the Program How to Use the Program View Competencies F.A.Q. Contact Us About Us, IDP News, Updates, and More
IDP Home Page
Fulfilling the NPS Mission 101
Informal Visitor Contacts 102
Interpretive Talk 103
Conducted Activity 210
Interpretive Demonstration 220
Interpretive Writing 230
Curriculum-based Program 270
Planning Park Interpretation 310
Interpretive Media Development 311
Leaning Interpreters 330
Interpretive Research
Other Developmental Competencies


Planning Park Interpretation Curriculum-based Program Interpretive Writing Interp. Demonstration Conducted Activity Interpretive Talk Informal Visitor Contacts Fulfilling NPS Mission IDP Homepage Interp. Media Development Leading Interpreters Interp. Research Interpretive Writing Curriculum-based Program Planning Park Interpretation Interp. Media Development Leading Interpreters Interpretive Research Interp. Demonstration Conducted Activity Interpretive Talk Informal Visitor Contacts Fulfilling NPS Mission IDP Homepage





About the Module The Curriculum Certification Standard About Submission More Resources Anchor Products

Component for Module 320

Choosing the Right Partnership Format

Content Outline | Resources | Suggested Developmental Activities

This component outlines many of the types of formal and informal partnerships used throughout the NPS. It defines when a formal partnership is needed over an informal one, and what written agreements are required.


At the completion of this component the learner will be able to:

  • List three common types of formal partnership agreements;
  • Determine the appropriate type of partnership agreement needed for a potential partner;
  • Create an informal partnership proposal.

Partnerships in the interpretive field can be utilized to produce a product or service or enhance an existing product or service.

This component compliments the Need for Partnerships and the Developing and Coordinating Partnerships components of Module 320. Components should be completed in succession. Full performance level interpreters, with solid understanding of the park resources and the potential partnership resources available to them, will be able to expand their audience or enhance their effectiveness or the visitor experience through partnership programs and projects. As suggested in the full performance level position description, interpreters should be using innovative and creative approaches to developing interpretive programs and media.

Return to the Top

Content Outline:
I. Defining formal versus informal partnerships

A. Formal partnership
- formal written agreement
- usually used when money or product is exchanged or the NPS has substantial involvement

B. Informal partnership
- lacks a formal written agreement
- less involvement provided by the NPS

II. Guidelines effecting partnerships

A. Director's Orders on NPS Agreements
B. Director's Orders on Cooperating Association s
C. Director's Orders on Volunteers in Parks
D. Director's Orders on Concession Management

III. Types of Formal Partnership Agreements

A. Cooperative Agreement (CA)
- definition per Director's Orders on NPS Agreement
- A CA is used when NPS involvement (monetary or non-monetary involvement) is substantial
- the Scope of Work and Terms of Agreement sections describe the responsibilities and level of involvement of each partner

B. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
- definition per Director's Orders on NPS Agreements
- an MOA is used when the NPS is to receive funds from a non-federal partner. Example - a Cooperating Association would have a MOA with each park.
- an MOU is used when there is no transfer of funds. The policies and procedures established are of mutual interest and concern for either federal or non-federal partners.
- the Scope of Work and Terms of Agreement sections of both describe the
responsibilities and level of involvement of each partner

C. Volunteers in Parks (VIP)
- volunteers assist with interpretive programs and completion of projects throughout the park
- volunteers must have a signed Volunteer Agreement Form on file with the park
- complete a Job Description that accurately outlines the volunteers responsibilities

D. Other Formal Partnership Agreements
1. Financial Assistance Agreement
- the NPS provides financial assistance to another organization such as a municipality for road repair
2. Interagency Agreement (IA)
- to acquire a product or service from or bestow upon another Federal agency
3. Intra-agency Agreement
- similar to an Interagency Agreement, however, the services or products are acquired from other bureaus and offices within DOI
4. Concessionaire Agreements
- to provide commercial services and facilities deemed necessary and appropriate for public use and enjoyment of that unit
5. Supplemental Agreements
- can be used to implement additional activities that are not outlined by the standard agreement. Frequently used in conjunction with MOAs as they pertain to cooperating associations
6. Special Use Permits (SUP)
- under some circumstances, SUPs can provide interpretive partnerships

IV. Types of Informal Partnerships
Interpreters participate in informal partnerships frequently as part of day to day interpretive operations.

A. Sample of informal partnerships
- organizations within your park boundaries that perhaps existed prior to the creation of the park such as golf courses, ski areas, other entertainment or recreation facilities
- contacting universities and other educational institutions for lecture series speakers
- local businesses assist with programs and projects such as a backpacking outfitter who provides information on equipment for a backpacking skills program
-interdivisional program efforts within a unit, such as a mist netting demonstration of neo-tropical birds involving resource management, interpretation and the visitors.

V. Selecting the proper instrument
Evaluate the extent of NPS involvement needed to complete the program or project.

A. Informal Partnership Proposal
1. Meet with your supervisor to discuss appropriate potential partners
2. Through contact with your potential partners, compile the following information:
a. name of potential partner and contact person
b. what is the desired product or service the partnership will provide or enhance
c. what are the benefits of the partnership
d. identify the goals of the partnership
e. what are the obstacles to implementation
f. identify the resources available that can be provided
g. identify who is responsible for implementation
h. identify a time frame for the partnership
i. how will the partnership be recognized
3. Submit to supervisor for evaluation and feasibility assessment
B. If due to the level of potential involvement, a formal written partnership must be developed then contact your supervisor or the appropriate person at your site with your proposal.

Return to the Top

Director's Orders on Interpretation #6
Director's Orders on Volunteer in Parks #7
Director's Orders on NPS Agreements #20
Director's Orders on Cooperating Associations #32
Director's Orders on Concession Management #48
Local CAs, MOUs, MOAs

RAILS: Rangers and Amtrak Interpreting Landscapes of the States, James E. Miculka and Susan Davenport, The 1995 Interpretive Sourcebook, National Association for Interpretation, 1995. (An article discussing partnership developed with Amtrak through a cooperative agreement).

Interpretation and Fries: A partnership Between the National Park Service and McDonald's, Bill O'Donnell and Cindy Von Halle, The 1995 Interpretive Sourcebook, National Association for Interpretation, 1995. (An article discussing a partnership with McDonald's to develop an information center).

Magic Dividends from Partnership Investments, Beverly Albrecht and Laurie Risch, The 1995 Interpretive Sourcebook, National Association for Interpretation, 1995. (Article discussing the development of a partnership between several museums and attractions in the Cincinnati area).

Return to the Top

Suggested Developmental Activities
Formal Agreement Analysis
The learner will locate and analyze CAs, MOAs, MOUs for their park cooperating association, friends group or other organization in a formal partnership with the park.

Potential Partner Survey
The learner will use the list of potential partners and services/products which was developed as a developmental assignment in Developing and Coordinating Partnerships Component and determine whether an informal or formal agreement would be the most appropriate means for establishing a partnership.

Establishing a Volunteer Partnership
The learner, in cooperation with the park's volunteer coordinator, will establish a volunteer agreement and develop a job description for a new volunteer. Note: The volunteer's responsibilities do not need to be limited to the Interpretive Division. If volunteering in another area of the park, the learner will develop the needed job description based on information provided by the work area supervisor.

Return to the Top

Editor: STMA Training Manager Interpretation

NPS Home l Privacy Notice l Disclaimer and Ownership
Visit ParkNet