CASE STUDY: Design Volunteers In Parks Program

Examples of several marketing campaigns produced by the students of the Design Volunteers In Parks Program.

Clockwise from top left: Case study examples include the marketing campaigns for the 75th Anniversary of Alcatraz, Healthy Parks Healthy People,, and


Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Arts Afire
Also Promotes:
Go Digital
Year Accomplished:


In 2011, Director Jon Jarvis' challenged National Park Service (NPS) employees to engage the next generation of park visitors. Call to Action item #10, Arts Afire, encourages us to not only interact, but to engage and challenge the youth of tomorrow to creatively express their experiences within the park.

"This action targets the engagement of the arts community with parks to tell park stories in creative new ways. It is also intended to reach out to youth through the arts, creating new interpretations of the parks through young eyes using current arts and technology. Suggested program components include: (1) a hands-on introduction to the artist's techniques and approach; (2) artist-led, multi-day park visits which immerse participants in the park experience and cultivate a deeper understanding of the park's natural, cultural, and historic resources; (3) direct interaction with park staff, especially interpretive and resource specialists; (4) artwork developed by the artist and young people, either individually or collaboratively, which is inspired by the park experience; and (5) sharing of the artwork on the website."

Since late 2007, the Design Volunteers In Parks Program at Golden Gate National Recreation Area has demonstrated to be an innovative program which works in collaboration with students from the Academy of Art University, R/GA, and Ex'pression College. Students participating in the program benefit by obtaining experience as volunteers working for the National Park Service as clients. Students also have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in new media design, photography, illustration, graphic design, multimedia journalism, audio/video, and motion graphics.


The purpose of the program is to help students connect with the parks' natural and cultural resources while developing marketing products for park programs and events.

  • The goal of the program is to engage youth (18-25 year olds) in the areas of art and music. In
    accordance to the Call to Action Plan #10: Arts Afire. This particular program has been engaging
    and encouraging young artists, designers, and musicians since 2007.
  • Another goal of the program is to provide opportunities for work experience in the arts and music industry. Many students participating in the program have little or no experience working with clients in a curriculum based structured environment.
  • The National Park Service has been seeking out an opportunity to engage the next generation
    of designers by encouraging the youth of tomorrow to market to particular demographics. This
    program assists in allowing the NPS to fulfill this goal.


Alcatraz Island 75th Anniversary

The goal of this project, which helped in establishing a formidable connection with Ex'pression College in Emeryville, was to find a way to help commemorate the 75th Anniversary of U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz (2009). The class was split into two groups under the direction of instructor Paul Sparrow, to design and develop a branding identity, poster series, and marketing materials for the event. Two products were developed within a 5 week timeframe, along with weekly visits to the classroom, and the park. The second product became the marketing tool for the event and was so successful in encouraging visitors with the tag line "it's criminal not to go…" that the Parks Conservancy ended up mass producing the image onto t-shirts, posters, mugs, and steel coffee containers. To this day those merchandise items are still on sale with credits going to the three students who made it work.

This marketing campaign included two different posters, public service announcement, a branding
identity, style guide, and merchandise examples. This campaign has been so successful that merchandise items are still for sale in our visitor centers.

Take Pride in America

This project required a redesign for the Take Pride in America (TPIA) brand and website. The project had 3 classes totaling up to 75 students competing against each other to redesign their website, develop a new branding identity, and create a public service announcement about the program. Students from the Academy of Art University (AAU) were learning the basics of web design as graphic designers, while the Ex'pression College students were showcasing their skills in multimedia design. Our main point of contact for this project, Executive Director Lisa Young, made a special trip from Washington DC to speak to the students about TPIA then corresponded with the students via the east coast. Students were relaying the information and receiving feedback every week and made the necessary alterations as necessary. One of the students from AAU's graphic design program showcased the winning design and eventually had the site reflect those suggestions. Take Pride in America Redesign (

Healthy Parks Healthy People

This project highlights the NPS Director's Call To Action initiative on Healthy Parks Healthy People. Two students from Ex'pression College tirelessly developed and designed the branding identity, poster, booklet format, and Public Service Announcement. The marketing materials has been so well received by other park superintendents that there are many requests coming in through the Call to Action Forums for copies of the marketing for use in their own parks.

The Healthy Parks Healthy People Public Service Announcement is due to receive the 3rd place award in the Short Video category for the 2012 National Association for Interpretation Media Competition. 

This project highlights the America's Natural and Cultural Resources Volunteer Portal built and maintained by the Federal Interagency team on Volunteerism, which is comprised of volunteer program coordinators from three cabinet level departments. The Portal has grown to include partners from all levels of government including local, State, and Federal. Students from Ex'pression College worked to redesign not only the branding identity, but the look and feel of the entire website. The marketing materials have been so well received by the members from Washington, DC that the overall look and brand is anticipated to launch later this year.


The benefit of the DVIP Program to students is to provide them with work experience as a volunteer of the National Park Service, along with experience working with a nonprofit client. In addition, students obtain opportunities to network with future prospects and gain recognition for their works to an international market.

The National Park Service gains marketing campaigns that are created by young designers who have a better understanding of their own peers and demographic market to help the park engage the next generation of park stewards.

Since its inception 2007 students of the Design Volunteers in Parks Program has contributed over 50,000 hours of volunteer time to the park. Projects included of marketing campaign, branding identities, website redesigning, and advertising. Last year, over 116 students contributed over 15,000 hours of volunteer time to the park.

The Design Volunteers In Parks program touches upon all aspects of visual arts by engaging the next generation of digital media users, who are more affluent with the application of the latest technology and visual media. In most cases these individuals have a better comprehension on how to engage their own generation. With the addition of their specialty majors in new media and multimedia design, they can help enhance user experiences through next generation students studying interactive media.


  • Professional development in a federal agency
  • Connecting NPS to youth through art, design, music
  • Peer review of products
  • Portfolio development and exposure


  • #10 Arts Afire
  • #17 Go Digital
  • #23 Go Green
  • #31 Destination Innovation

For more information about the latest Public Service Announcement created through DVIP program, please access our YouTube page at:

To find out more about the DVIP program check out the PSA about the benefits: