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Park Science Celebrates!

Surprising and inspiring stories about milestones related to science in our national parks. Produced by Park Science, a digital magazine of the National Park Service.


2. A Landmark Program Celebrates a Milestone


[INTRODUCTION, WITH MUSIC]: Park Science Celebrates is a podcast of Park Science magazine that highlights the milestones and contributions to science made by parks and programs of the National Park Service.

KASS: Hey, Everyone, and welcome to another episode of Park Science Celebrates podcast. Listen to this and other podcasts on our website nps.gov forward slash park science. I'm your host, Kass Bissmeyer, and I'm here with my co-host Sarah Sparhawk. Hey, Sarah.

SARAH: Hey Kass. Okay, so today we have three NPS staff on our podcast who helped to build a really unique function for the National Park Service: the National Natural Landmarks Program. Heather [Eggleston], Laurie [Jenkins], and Deb [DiQuinzio] are going to share their contributions to science over their program’s 60 years.

KASS: And Heather, can you describe the National Natural Landmark Program for our listeners today?

HEATHER: Yeah, so the National Natural Landmarks Program is…it's a partnership program, and it really helps to advance the National Park Service mission to extend the benefits of resource conservation to communities throughout the country. And it does this through designation by the Secretary of the Interior of sites that contain outstanding examples of biological and geological features. And so with that designation it creates a partnership between the Park Service and the many different public and private landowners at these NNL sites. And so it provides a really great way for the NPS to be able to engage with and and to support site owners in their conservation efforts.

KASS: And you mentioned sites, Heather. Are there a lot of sites, are there sites in every state? Can you tell us a little bit just about that you know approach to NNLs and where they are?

HEATHER: Yeah, so there are currently sites all across the country and they're both in you know urban areas as well as well as more rural settings. Some of them are a little bit more well-known , and some of them are not terribly well known and are kind of off the beaten path. Um, there are sites in all states except for Delaware and Louisiana.

KASS: And one last point of clarification here. So you mentioned that it's a partnership. Does the National Park Service actually own any of these sites, any of the land, or is it purely owned by private individuals?

HEATHER: So…the Park Service…there are very few NNL sites that occur within units of the National Park System. There are about 25 of these designated areas that are within units of the National Park System. All of the rest of them are on lands of other ownership. So the bulk of these sites are on lands owned by states or counties, other federal agencies, tribes, municipal agencies, and even private landowners. So we see NNLs occurring really within and on lands of all types of ownership.

SARAH: So, Heather, what are we celebrating today. Can you tell us a little bit about this program's milestone?

HEATHER: We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the NNL program. It was established on May 18th in 2 by Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall. And really this this milestone is the celebration of six decades of partnership provides a really great opportunity to bring awareness to the program into the network of sites it's also a really great opportunity to honor the efforts of these various you know public and private landowners who have been responsible for stewarding these sites over these years.

KASS: Deb, what does this diamond milestone mean to your regional office?

DEB: It's kind of reiterating what we've really focused on this year and have been excited about with the anniversary. It’s just shining a light on the work that our landmark owners have done. You know, obviously, it's not been the same owners for the past years in all cases or managers. But that cumulative effort by all of those various, from private up to other federal agency, landowners that have contributed to this program and preserving these sites that carry the designation.

SARAH: Six, six decades. Surely there's got to be some amazing contributions to science in that time. Let's hear about some of them. Heather?

HEATHER: Some of the ways that the program has contributed to science is through the fact that one of the criterion for becoming a national natural landmark is one of the significance criteria is for the value of the site to science and education. And so that is considered as part of that sort of the early evaluation of these areas. So many of these sites kind of provide this representation of areas that have significance or value you know to science. And so there are sites that are recognized because they were part of some of the very early science of paleontology or you know understanding our world from long ago. And others are like long-term research sites.

KASS: Any endemic species or specific species that have newly been identified in any of the NNL sites?

DEB: We actually do have on Muskegon Island in Massachusetts… there is an endemic vole. They also have a massive gray seal breeding population, and that's another big research topic out there. And that's a that's a site that has contributed greatly to both gray seal recovery and research into gray seal population dynamics. But that is one that comes to mind that they have. And there's been some study of the vole, but certainly not as much as the gray seal. So that's definitely something that could use more use more research. That's a future topic.

KASS: Very cool. We'll put that on our list to go check out; how cool is that? I kind of want to turn to looking ahead and talk a little bit about what your program…at this milestone…what you're enthusiastic about right now. Like what's happening right now that each of you could be excited about. And Laurie, let's start with you.

LAURIE: Yeah, thanks, Kass. I am particularly excited about my relationship with the Ice Age Flood National Geologic Trail. It celebrates the Missoula Ice Age floods, partnering very closely with the new project manager. We have eight NNLs along the along the trail that we're celebrating and, you know, working together to feature those sites in his material as well as our NNL material. And just recently, that group has asked me to be on their technical committee, so I am very excited about that. And just bringing the awareness, the NNL awareness, to that group has been fantastic.

KASS: That's awesome; that's definitely a trail I want to check out too. Deb, how about you? What do you most enthusiastic about right now?

DEB: Well, my answer is probably a little bit more selfish. I'm kind of excited about , after the lack of travel the past few years, getting back out to the landmark sites and reconnecting with all of the owners and managers. And learning about, you know, what has been going on in at the landmarks and in their worlds as far as conservation. And probably some new science that they're doing that we don't that we don't currently know about.

KASS: And Heather?

HEATHER: I think one of the things that I'm excited about are some of the program materials that we have been recently putting together. Really, we've been doing this not only to share with the public but really with the focus of providing these two site owners and managers and with the idea that this is going to help equip them to tell the story. So the way, you know, the more that we can make this information readily available and easily digestible, they can then take that and use their voice to share with others about the designation and the resources, the significant resources at their site. And really help to kind of impart the importance of these areas.

KASS: Yeah, we'll put that in the listener notes so folks can access that too as well as of course the National Natural Landmarks website link too. This is great; I mean it's making me excited. I’m enthusiastic about the program, excited about the milestone anniversary here. SARAH: Yes, thanks Kass. I would love to hear about how are you tackling some of the oncoming issues in science as it relates to the NNLs.

LAURIE: Thanks Sarah. You know I’m just going to say, just internally, we have been really working as the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Division as an example to build those relationships and kind of collaborate with those programs so that we can better serve the landmark owners. For example, we have just worked the national trails and Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. We now know all the trails and rivers within our NNLs, and minimally, it is exciting to share that information, that kind of crosswalk, with site managers. There's more to come on that front, but these relationships are beneficial, I think, to everyone.

DEB: Well, I think as far as I mean our role in the program…it’s more when you talk about oncoming science issues…it’s to highlight what the NNL owners and managers are doing to rise to those challenges. And, you know, do the research and science that's necessary to answer those questions and come up with a way to tackle those issues. You know, it's really the you know…We ourselves may not be directly involved in the science; we sometimes can broker assistance from Park Service scientists to help out at NNLs. But generally, it's the site owners and managers that are doing the science, and so that's…I can easily name off a handful of sites that are actually owned by academic institutions. There really is a lot of research and science and some of it cutting edge dealing with climate change and, you know, monitoring changes in forest ecology…I know that's a big topic right now, a forest resiliency, so so all this stuff is going on at NNLs, we're not directly involved, but we really strive to kind of elevate what they're doing at these sites.

KASS: I want to switch gears a little bit it. You know, I think one of the things that—especially with a long-standing program like this—you guys are probably constantly in some sort of planning mode. I want us to look ahead to the 70th anniversary, the 75th anniversary…Give us a sneak peek what's on the horizon as far as NNL’s future potential contributions to science, potential new sites that you may be thinking about. Give us that little sneak peek, Heather.

HEATHER: No some of the things that I think that we've been working on I think to set us up, we are really investigating and looking at where overlap exists. So we're working to understand how and where do NNLs overlap with other areas of designation. So national heritage areas or national trails. And so having even just that general understanding of these sort of this layering you will of, you know, different recognitions, the better that we can help build those bridges and make those connections, which aid in when sites are looking to do projects. I mean it provides that sort of network for broadening the scope, potentially bringing in partners, and having it be a broader landscape, collaborative project. So even that basic understanding is really exciting and kind of positions us in the years ahead for that. We're also looking at it from a resource perspective, so understanding across the landscape where's the commonality and resources among sites. Again that just helps with better making those connections to enable sort of a broadening of scope and partnering for projects and…

KASS: Thanks so much, Heather. One last question here, and then we're going to open it up for anything that we might have missed for our listeners, but…if you could partner with anyone or any organization to advance your work in science, who would it be? And let's just start with Laurie, and then we'll head to Heather and then Deb.

LAURIE: I would like to partner with the National Park Foundation both to raise our profile within the national park service but an opportunity to help our sites with a little bit of funding. I mean, we have this great honorific designation we bring to them, a nationally significant natural resource. But it would so often be nice to actually help them out, whether it's helping with an interp exhibit, a brochure, a trail, trails work.

We are working with NRSS to start to use their science arm, so we can, you know, offer stream restoration and some of those in-kind services. But sometimes, all sites need, you know, as…a few grand. And that would be great to have the foundation recognize us as an extension of the National Park Service and park units.

KASS: I like that idea, Laurie, yeah, that sounds great. Heather, who would it be for you? Who would you partner with if you could.

HEATHER: And I think that the National Geographic comes to mind. I think just from the perspective of helping share science stories and providing even that broader audience that is already tied into the National Geographic.

KASS: Deb, let's head to you. You've been with NNLs for quite some time. Who would you partner with if you could? DEB: So it's a large question with a very open field, but I’m going to…I’m going more narrow. And I’m thinking within the Park Service and the I and M program—the Inventory and Monitoring Program. I think that's always been on my mind for some years as far as where there might be opportunities for some crossover, since I know that there are a lot of NNLs all throughout these I and M networks that are dealing with this a lot of the same issues that the parks are. And so, there just seems like there would be a good fit there for some form of collaboration.

KASS: I say let's do all three. Each of those partners sound great. I’m surprised we're not working with some of them to help advance your work. And in some ways, surprised that your work has gone six years without some of those tools and important contributions from partners like that. So bravo to you all. Hopefully, we might have planted a little seed there for some partnership in the future. We just want to close out with anything that we might have missed for our listeners today. Anything that you'd like to comment on, something that you'd like to elevate, and just help our listeners understand the National Natural Landmark Program a little bit better or how they can get involved. Laurie let's start with you, and then we'll head to Deb.

LAURIE: I think it's just sharing the fact with land managers and owners that they are indeed managing, overseeing, a nationally significant natural resource and make them excited about that. And they usually are. When you say it that way, they suddenly, you know, get a little taller. That is both really, really cool and really terrifying. So as an agency, right, are we doing enough to shore up these nationally significant resources—the age-old question.

DEB: Just that, you know, these landmarks are everywhere, all across the country. So people can get involved by…visit our website. I’m sure you will find a landmark near you that is open to the public or that you can get permission to go visit, and you can get involved. A lot of these sites are owned by organizations that are looking for volunteers and monitors to check in on these sites periodically so there's lots of opportunities to get involved for sure.

HEATHER: Yeah, I would just add on to what Laurie and Deb have said. Again, with this designation, the Park Service doesn't have management authority. And really, the reason that conservation happens at these sites is because of that voluntary commitment and the stewardship of the various owners. And so, in addition to, you know, checking them out, see what's nearby, you know, give them a thanks. I mean, we are certainly shouting out to all of the all of our partners and NNL owners and managers for their efforts over the years. Because these are these are really spectacular sites that illustrate the real diversity of natural features in our country. And so a shout out to them and their efforts to steward them over these years.

SARAH: Well, this has been really awesome to talk to the three of you today. You have so much knowledge about the program. And I think we've given our listeners a lot to think about and lots of different ways to celebrate the program throughout the rest of this year. So thank you so much for joining Kass and I today.

KASS: Yes and congratulations on your 60th anniversary! What a milestone,

[CONCLUSION, WITH MUSIC]: This has been Park Science Celebrates, a podcast of Park Science magazine.

The National Natural Landmarks Program celebrates its 60th anniversary! Hear from program managers Heather Eggleston, Laurie Lee Jenkins, and Deb DiQuinzio how this program works to promote the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail and other amazing places. Hosted by Kass Bissmeyer and Sarah Sparhawk. More information: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nnlandmarks/index.htm. A production of Park Science magazine, Summer 2022 issue (June 22, 2022), https://www.nps.gov/subjects/parkscience.

1. How "America's Best Idea" went Global


[INTRODUCTION, WITH MUSIC]: Park Science Celebrates is a podcast of Park Science magazine that highlights the milestones and contributions to science made by parks and programs of the National Park Service.

KASS: Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Park Science Celebrates! podcast. I'm your host, Kass Bissmeyer, with my co-host, Cortney Cjesfjeld. Hey, Cortney.

CORTNEY: Hey, Kass. Okay so today we have someone really special on the podcast, who started out in the Peace Corps and has helped to build a really unique function for the National Park Service. So we're happy to have John Putnam from the International Affairs Office. We're going to hear about some significant contributions their office has made for science through collaboration. KASS: So welcome, John. Thanks so much for agreeing on our Park Science podcast here. Can you kick us off by just telling us a little bit about you?

JOHN: Sure, thanks, Kass, and thanks for inviting me for this podcast. So I've been with the Park Services International Affairs Office for more than 20 years now. It's gone by quickly, but it's been a really fun ride. I'd grown up a lover of the outdoors but also lived overseas as a teenager and so always had those two interests. And through good luck, find my way to the Park Services International Affairs Office after serving as a ranger and a peace volunteer overseas. And this ended up being like really the perfect match for my for my interest.

KASS: That's so exciting, John. I just love that the National Park Service has an International Affairs Office. It has to be one of the coolest jobs in the entire agency. Can you describe your program for us? What is it that the International Affairs Office does?

JOHN: Well, the Park Service has been involved internationally, well, since even before there was a Park Service, you know, with Yellowstone being the world's first national park, you know. The rest of the world quickly took notice and became obviously a global movement. But even at the very creation of the Park Service in 1916, you know, Stephen Mather, the first director, was told by the Secretary of the Interior at the time that he should be following events overseas, with the idea being that the Park Service could learn from what other countries.

And so particularly after World War II, when this global park movement really took off in a big way, Park Service was just being inundated with requests for assistance and for advice on how to either set up a park system or a new national park unit. And so Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall in 1962, six years ago in June, the first World Parks Congress in Seattle, he announced to the world that the Park Service was creating this Office of International Affairs to facilitate these kind of exchanges and learning from our international partners and sharing our successes and mistakes.

You know, one thing, we're unique, really, we and Canada are the only park agencies I know of which bring together both natural and cultural heritage under one organization. Most other national parks are under, you know, a ministry of environment, and cultural sites typically under, you know, ministry of culture, and they're very separate. But in the U.S. and again in Canada, we bring them together. And the World Heritage Convention likewise was the first international instrument to see that both nature and culture are really closely linked and need to be protected by one instrument.

CORTNEY: Thanks, John, that's really interesting to learn about the early origins of kind of this global park movement, really fascinating. Remind us today what we are celebrating. Provide a brief description of your program's milestone, what it's about?

JOHN: Well, I think the idea was right from the beginning, of course, this was created in the Kennedy Administration, our office was, and it was the same time the Peace Corps, of course, was established. There was this, I think, the general sense at in throughout the U.S. government that we need to be very involved around the globe. And like the peace corps, I think, that was a big part of it, that we should be sharing the lessons learned in places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, you know, with our international partners. And you know with countries that were maybe just starting their own park agencies. But I think even from very early on we saw this was a two-way street, that, you know, the Park Service in the U.S. had as much to benefit from this kind of international exchange as we had to share.

You know, some of the things that, you know, we've learned from our international colleagues over the decades now include sort of iconic parts of the Park Service. At Great Smoky Mountains now you know they're known for the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, where they're trying to inventory and record essentially every living thing within the boundaries the borders of the park. But this was an idea that didn't start in the U.S. or Great Smokies. It was really an idea that started in Costa Rica. The Park Service took note of that and adopted this concept and brought it back to the U.S.

A lot of our large mammal research protocols were learned by exchanging ideas with the South African national park agency. You know to this day we bring back good ideas from our international colleagues back to the Park Service, whether through study tours, international workshops, staff exchanges, that kind of thing. Just another really neat example that I was involved with that promoted an exchange between Glacier Bay and a park called Francisco Coloane in Chilean Patagonia. It's an amazing place which is in many ways almost a mirror image of Glacier Bay: these deep fjords, glaciers, a lot of sea life, healthy population of humpback whales.

They were concerned at this park in Chile with the potential of ship strikes on these whales, this is through the Straits of Magellan, very high, a lot of ship traffic going through there. And of course the Glacier Bay, we have a lot of experience with the cruise ships coming in there. And so the Park Service at Glacier Bay has developed protocols for both monitoring the whale population in the bay, their movements, and for predicting where they will be, and helping them determine what the ships, the cruise ships routes, will be through the park to minimize any impacts on whales.

And so our expert, our ecologist from Glacier Bay spent six months in Chile bringing this knowledge to their park system and helped them develop a very similar protocol and helping you know minimize the risk of injury or death to this park's whale population. But at the same time, he got a lot of interesting new ideas to bring back to Glacier Bay, so again, it was a great example of a two-way street.

CORTNEY: That's wonderful, John. What an amazing example of collaboration, you know. What is your program or park’s, you know, contribution to science? You've already provided a few very specific examples, but maybe think about it in a more holistic way.

JOHN: Sure, so again, we have a very small office, the International Affairs Office. It’s just six people these days, and so we are not, I mean, many of us have some background in science, But we're not the scientists, the science experts. But our job really is more like matchmakers. We'll get a request from an international counterpart or from a U.S. embassy or other third party looking for a technical advice assistance from the Park Service. And then our job is to try to identify where, if that expertise exists in the Park Service, where it is and see if we can then use that to help our international partners. And so when we, if we find that, you know, what's either in some cases, the more extreme cases, like the six month, you know, exchange, where the ecologists from Glacier Bay actually spend all that time at Francisco Coalane. But more typically, it's two-week technical assistance project, or maybe it's a workshop that either we organize in the U.S. or our international colleagues have organized. And we’ll send the right expert to that, to that country.

Sometimes it's more basic than that. We got a request a while ago from the peace corps in Paraguay in South America. They were trying to develop a wildlife monitoring project in and around Paraguay’s protected areas and with their peace corps volunteers working with community members and park managers to do this. But they didn't have the wildlife cameras, and they reached out to us. And as luck had it, Park Service had a lot of surplus cameras that we managed to connect, you know, these surplus cameras, which are still perfectly good for what Paraguay was looking for. Got them to Paraguay. They developed wildlife monitoring project.

And it was so cool about six months or so later, they started sending us these great photos of ocelots and jaguars and other animals that they didn't even know were there until they set up these cameras. So you know there's all kinds of things we get involved with and again you know we're not experts but our job is to find where that expertise lies within the service.

KASS: I just love this, John, just thinking about how much, not only are we helping but we're also learning along the way. And certainly, 60 years of that, I'm sure there's lots of stories that we can tell. Looking ahead, what's, you know, what's happening now that you're really enthusiastic about and of course we're hoping you can talk to the science angle, as we're the Park Science magazine. So what's happening now that you're enthusiastic about?

JOHN: Well there's just so many things going on around the globe in conservation in protected area management that I think the U.S and the Park Service really stands to benefit by you know deeper engagement. These are things like how do we integrate traditional ecological knowledge, Indigenous knowledge with I guess you call it western science. And this is an area where you know a lot of countries have done a lot more than the Park Service has done, the U.S. Park Service has done. And I think we would stand to benefit by you know really visiting these places, learning how they've set up these types of programs.

Places even as close as Canada, but Australia and New Zealand, have really become leaders in this topic, and I think the Park Service would benefit by engaging with them more deeply. But also things like, we're familiar of course with America the Beautiful, which is part of this larger global initiative, the 30 by 30 to protect 30 percent of the globe's terrestrial and marine areas by 2030. But there's a lot of science behind that, which area should be prioritized, how do we define “conserved.”

And so there is a global you know there's a global movement looking at this. Park Service in the U.S., you know at a larger level, I think, could, would benefit by engaging in these conversations about how do we think about this here at home by learning what you know other countries and the global community at large are doing. The other thing that really gets me excited is migratory connectivity. We in the U.S., I grew up, you know, with these field guides to birds that showed their range in the U.S., and then the rest of the world didn't exist, apparently, you know. I so I knew where they were from May to September, but then they just disappeared. But you know, our, the way we're looking this has changed radically, and now we know that whether it's migratory birds, marine life, sea turtles, they are really global travelers, we want to be able to enjoy them in U.S. national parks, we need to be thinking about what they call full life-cycle conservation. And we need to need to be thinking about where they are when they're not in a U.S. national park, when they're not in the U.S. and what are their conservation needs outside of that.

And so migratory connectivity is one way to get at that to understand you know where are the golden eagles from Denali going when they leave the park? And where are the sea turtles from Dry Tortugas going, when, after they've laid their eggs and they moved on somewhere else, and the birds, you know, going to places that are protected or not protected. And with that knowledge, I think then the Park Service could start figuring out ways to prioritize. We obviously, we have a very limited resources for international work, but with this knowledge we could start prioritizing where we want to focus international work. But also I think just make the case that much stronger why we need to be involved internationally. Because we'll see it's not just a shared species but an actual shared population or even a shared individual moving from one of our parks to these locations outside the U.S. So I'm really excited about, as technology increases, the Park Service hopefully doing a lot more to understand these connections.

CORTNEY: Wow, John, that's wonderful. You know, I first of all, I really liked the concept of deeper engagement. I think that's really important and exciting, but really the discussion that we just had about migratory connectivity is a great segue to our next question, which is how are you tackling oncoming issues with science?

JOHN: Well again, I mean our issue is always that where we in international affairs are not necessarily experts but we look to our expertise in the Park Service. And so I think the most important thing from the international perspective is to make sure that our experts are in regular communication with the experts around the globe. And you know, one of the vehicles for facilitating this is the world commission on protected areas or WCPA, which is a volunteer network under the IUCN. And they include things like climate change and conservation, or connectivity conservation.

And unfortunately, for one reason another, you know, a lot of our Park Service colleagues are either not aware of these expert groups or are not involved. And you know one thing I think our office would like to do is find ways to really increase Park Service involvement in some of these expert groups. You know these issues are not unique to the U.S. Park Service or to the U.S. Every country around the globe are facing very similar challenges, so it just makes sense for us to be not trying to reinvent the wheel but learning from others’ successes and failures. And hopefully, and then in the U.S., bringing that expertise back and focusing on those successes and improving our own conservation outcomes.

KASS: John, you gave us a couple of little sneak peeks of things that are on the horizon as far as your work in science, especially around migratory species and America the Beautiful and the forthcoming conservation atlas. Is there anything else that you can get us excited about as far as a little sneak peek what the International Affairs Office has coming up in the next few years as you make your way past 60 years and into, you know, your next decade here?

JOHN: Well I guess one thing I'd just like to also just remind folks that we've been talking I think almost exclusively about sort of natural resources and natural heritage conservation but of course so much of what the Park Service does and cultural heritage and cultural resources protection and preservation as well I think that's just another area where you know we hope to do a lot more in. I mean, one neat example, it's not necessarily science, but it's related the whole issue of adobe construction preservation. This is an area where the U.S. and the Park Service really was losing expertise. And through a program in cooperation with Mexico maybe 10, 15 years ago, they started a regular workshop where Park Service and Mexican experts would get together and spend a week learning about instruct, maintain, preserve adobe structures. And this is bringing back this expertise to the Park Service so we can better protect our own sites. And there are many examples like that you know throughout the Park Service where you know we don't have all the answers. Sometimes it's our international partners who are really there to help us do our job better.

KASS: One follow-up question to that, John, I, this might be a personal interest of mine, but I'm sure our listeners will be excited too. I'm wondering, are there any new potential international peace parks or any new potential sister park relationships in development that are on the horizon that we can kind of look forward to supporting or following the development of?

JOHN: So we are hopefully going to be signing a new agreement between the Park Service and Mexico’s INAH, which is their national institute of history and anthropology. It's basically sort of the cultural heritage side of conservation. We've had these agreements in the past, but it expired a few years ago, and so we hope that'll be renewed or the new ones signed in the next few months.

We do have a few sister parks in the pipeline. I don't want to get out ahead of them, but I think stay tuned; in the next month or so, we should have an announcement on at least one with I'll say it's a country in South America. We've got a lot of other, there's always a lot of interest in developing these kind of agreements, but of course one of our jobs is to make sure that it's something that we can really live up to. There's a lot of excitement about these, but we want to make sure that once an agreement is signed that there's actually the wherewithal to actually implement some of the things that we've been discussing. So the two examples I've talked about there's a lot to get excited about so stay tuned I guess I can say.

CORTNEY: Thanks, John. That's very exciting and wonderful to hear about all of these collaboration with Mexico with the adobe construction, really exciting. Our next question is, it's a fun one, if you could partner with anyone or any organization in our vast global community to help move your work forward in science, who would it be?

JOHN: Oh boy, that is a tough one. There are so many, there's so many partners. I already mentioned the World Commission on Protected Areas, I think. That's the, I guess that's the low-hanging fruit you know. If we could get more Park Service engagement with some of those expert groups in the WCPA, I think that would be a major success. Many other international entities where I think the Park Service could benefit by being more involved, you know. Unfortunately the U.S. is right now not a member of UNESCO. But they do have some programs that we're still involved with, including the World Heritage Convention, which is a standalone convention, and I think our site manager would benefit a lot by engaging more with them and with other site managers around the globe who are facing similar you know science issues and research issues.

Biosphere reserve advisory region program is another voluntary program under UNESCO which is all about linking conservation with sustainable development and looking at ways to promote both. We in the Park Service have been leading a revival of that program in the last couple of years. Boy there are just so many others out there. I think the main thing is once you start as a Park Service employee, sort of dipping your toes into the water of this international work, you realize how much there is to gain by talking with your colleagues and counterparts from around the world and realizing that they're sharing so many of the same challenges that that we do in the U.S. and the Park Service, and a lot of them have some very good ideas that we haven't thought of and we can try them here in the U.S.

KASS: Well gosh, John, this has been a really exciting interview as far as learning more about International Affairs Office as well as what you all are celebrating this year. Certainly on behalf of Cortney and myself and the rest of our Park Science editorial board, we really appreciate your continuity and service. That certainly has to be a part of the success of the International Affairs Office is having year-long service, be instrumental in helping to lead the way there. Is there anything that we might have missed for our listeners today that you might like to add before we close out?

JOHN: Oh boy, I mean I guess just one thing to keep in mind you know when folks are traveling and if Americans are traveling overseas and if you visit a national park or world heritage site, I would just say remember this is an idea that you know it didn't start in the U.S. certainly was strongly influenced by the U.S. And you know, take some real pride in that. And this is one of the areas where the U.S. where America, Americans have had a really important and positive global influence.

It's one of those things, that this is a great story, the story of the U.S. and leadership in international conservation and specifically the Park Service leadership in international conservation. Learn about this story and really be proud, because it's something that we all in the Park Service, we all as Americans have had you know an incredible legacy around the globe. Well congratulations on your milestone thanks again for making time for us.

JOHN: Thank you both. It's been fun.

[CONCLUSION, with MUSIC]: This has been Park Science Celebrates, a podcast of Park Science magazine.

"America's best idea" is also one of our most influential exports! International Cooperation Specialist Jon Putnam talks about the National Park Service's global connections in science on the 60th anniversary of the agency's Office of International Affairs. Hosted by Kass Bissmeyer and Cortney Cjesfjeld. More information: https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1955/index.htm. A production of Park Science magazine, Summer 2022 issue (June 22, 2022), https://www.nps.gov/subjects/parkscience.