Who We Are

One Idea, Many Models

Who We Are
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RLCs share a unifying purpose to support scientific research and learning in parks.

The RLCs do their work in a variety of ways. They’ve diversified to meet the particular needs, opportunities, and interests of their parks and communities. What’s true for an RLC in Washington DC might not be true for an RLC in the Rocky Mountains. Here are some of the ways RLCs have adapted:

  • Facilities: Many RLCs at parks that happen to have unused buildings have converted them into housing, workspaces, and classrooms for research and learning. Examples include Pacific Coast SLC, Continental Divide RLC, and Appalachian Highlands SLC.
  • Geography: Many RLCs, like Crater Lake SLC, focus their work in just one park where the staff are based. Others, like the Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance in Washington DC, use their proximity to many parks and population centers to support science and learning at several units in a region or ecosystem.
  • Governance: RLCs that support multiple parks, like the Great Lakes Research and Education Center, typically have governing boards of park superintendents and other NPS leaders. A few RLCs, like Schoodic, are governed and operated through agreements with a nonprofit partner. And many are managed as a single park program, under one park superintendent.
  • Constituents: Some RLCs, like Desert RLC in Tucson, engage urban residents in research and learning in parks near cities. Others, like Murie SLC, work with schools and other organizations to immerse students in the science of wilderness areas.
  • Activities: The RLCs focus on different types of activities according to their funding, personnel strengths, and park context. A few, like Crown of the Continent RLC, have strong citizen science programs.
The RLCs are staffed by NPS employees and, in some cases, by partner organizations. Those professionals guide, facilitate and communicate scientific research. They work with interpreters and teachers on science education, and mentor interns in science projects. They also advise resource managers about research results, publish a variety of scientific information, run citizen science projects, and do lots of other things to make science come alive in parks.

Check out the Research Learning Centers!

The Appalachian Highland Science Learning Center is based on 535 acres in Haywood County, North Carolina, known as "The Purchase", and contiguous with the rest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn more!

Located in historic North Truro, Massachusetts, the ARLC is contained within the grounds of the Highlands Center at Cape Cod National Seashore, which is administered in partnership with the private, non-profit organization Highlands Center, Inc. Learn more!

The Continental Divide Research Learning Center (CDRLC) has many accommodation options for researchers and guests working in Rocky Mountain National Park. Learn more!

The Crater Lake Science and Learning Center is managed through a collaborative partnership with Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. Learn more!

The CCRLC represents three national park units in our region as well as Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. The CCRLC promotes science and stewardship within the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. By working with a variety of partners, we hope to encourage informed decision making, science literacy, and resource stewardship within Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Grant-Kohrs Ranch, and Little Bighorn Battlefield. Learn more!

The Desert Research Learning Center (DRLC) promotes the scientific understanding, protection, and conservation of Sonoran Desert Network parks. Located adjacent to Saguaro National Park, the DRLC is an ideal space for connecting people, resources, and science. Learn more!

The Great Lakes Research and Education Center increases the effectiveness and communication of scientific research in eleven national parks in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The GLREC serves 11 parks in the NPS Great Lakes Network. Two staff members and the GLREC field station are located at Indiana Dunes National Park. Learn more!

On April 15, 2015, the Gulf Islands Research and Education Center (GIREC) was created by Gulf Islands National Seashore and the University of West Florida. While the center awaits funding for a physical home, dedicated staff carry out the mission of the center from their respective organizations. Gulf Islands National Seashore and the University of West Florida form this research and science education partnership. Learn more!

Jemez Mountains Research Learning Center is based at Valles Caldera National Park. Learn more!

The Murie Science and Learning Center promotes science and stewardship in Denali and other Alaskan national parks with a focus on serving youth. The Center is situated at the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. The operations of the facility are funded and facilitated by the National Park Service and Alaska Geographic. Learn more!

Our Research Learning Center is co-located with the North Coast and Cascades Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (NCCN I&M). The RLC works with network parks, the NCCN I&M Program, and other researchers to identify research needs, coordinate science activities, and make science accessible for park management. Learn more!

The Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center promotes stewardship of the marine influenced ecosystems of Alaska’s coastal national parks through education and research. The OASLC is located at Kenai Fjords National Park Headquarters, in Seward, Alaska. Learn more!

The Old-Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center was established at Congaree National Park in 2002. The center's mission is to advance scientific understanding and appreciation of riverine and forested landscapes across the Southeastern United States. This is focused on NPS units within the Southeast Coast Inventory & Monitoring Network but extends to include other NPS parks, federal lands, and partner interests within those watersheds. Learn more!

The Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center serves: Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pinnacles National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, Eugene O’Neil National Historic Site, John Muir National Historic Site, and Fort Point National Historic Site. Learn more!

The Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) is located just outside the village of Winter Harbor, Maine. Learn more!

By working with a variety of partners, we aim to support science-based decision making, increase science literacy and promote a conservation ethic within Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Channel Islands National Park and Cabrillo National Monument. Learn more!

UERLA is a Research Learning Center that serves 16 parks in National Capital Region. Learn more!

Last updated: November 3, 2021