In 2009, the NPS Office of Public Health (OPH) piloted an innovative program to place volunteer epidemiologists in National Parks in order to augment park-based public health capacity.
Stuart Castle, MPH, and Leo Cropper, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM (assigned to Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks respectively), were the first epidemiologists hired through this inaugural Epidemiologists-in-Residence (EIR) program. In exchange for park housing and a small stipend, Mr. Castle and Dr. Cropper (each with 30+ years public health experience) provided on-site public health expertise in conjunction with park managers and local/state health departments.
The 2009 EIR program was highly successful and was well-received at both parks. Notable achievements included the following:
- Assisted park managers in responding to human case reports of hantavirus infection and measles.
- Evaluated the risk for tick-borne relapsing fever at the North Rim and made recommendations to prevent future cases/outbreaks.
- Developed a zoonotic disease brochure that is currently being distributed to all river rafters.
- Explored the potential for emergency medical services (EMS) data to be collected as part of the OPH disease surveillance and reporting system.
In 2010, the EIR program will be offered at two new parks—Glacier NP in Montana and Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky.
- Developed a response plan for H1N1 influenza (including distribution of vaccine), outlining roles and responsibilities of the park and neighboring state and county health departments.
- Coordinated a zoonotic disease roundtable with employees and managers of the Yellowstone Center for Resources.
- Hosted and organized a vector-borne disease field assessment by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
- Reviewed brucellosis worker safety protocols.
Current Volunteer Job Opportunities