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Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IU's Eppley Institute honored by National Park Service

May 13, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands was given the first-ever National Park Service Excellence in Partnership Award.

The Eppley Institute, part of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and it's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, has participated in a collaborative partnership with the NPS for the 11 years, providing the federal agency with a wide variety of research, training and education and technical assistance projects and programs.

"The Eppley Institute has just celebrated its 15th year of operations, and as the Excellence in Partnership Award demonstrates, the Institute has continuously advanced its standards of distinction," said Robert M. Goodman, dean of the School of HPER.

Steve Wolter, executive director of the Eppley Institute, said the partnership has provided "excellent" education and training opportunities for thousands of NPS employees; advanced knowledge in the park, recreation and public lands field for publication and research; and has allowed IU to build a large distributed education and training programs for the public, volunteers and National Park Service concessionaires.

"To be honored for our commitment to helping employees and the public understand, appreciate and be able to manage the natural, cultural, recreational and constructed resources that are part of the National Park Service is a truly an honor," he said.

In presenting this award, NPS Director Dan Wenk recognized the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands for its many contributions to NPS programs and disciplines. The institute's broad spectrum of programs includes:

  • Park Facility Management (Asset Management Program implementation, Facility Management Software System deployment as well as the Facility Manager Leaders Program)
  • Training and Development ('Fundamentals' New Employee Introduction and Orientation Program, Universal Competencies, Training Needs Analysis, Leadership Academy, Mid Level Management Development Program, NPS New Superintendent's Academy)
  • Resource Stewardship and Protection (Course of study, Resource Protection and the Law courses, Interdisciplinary Team Resource Protection Planning
  • Interpretation Development Program (Distance education training platform, Credentialing program, Coaching Network, E-course training
  • Structural Fire Program (E-courses)
  • Administration/Budget (E-courses)
  • Concessions Management (Asset management e-courses)
  • Business Feasibility Plan for NPS Training Centers
  • Development of NPS Distributed Education Program (Technology Enhanced Learning)
  • Deployment of Learning Management Systems
  • Evaluation and Return on Investment Analysis
  • Instructor/Trainer Training Program

The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands has been awarded more than $8.5 million in grants, contracts and financial assistance from federal, state and local agencies since 1998.

"We never envisioned that the Eppley Institute would be as successful and have as significant impact as it does nationally. It is the one institute that almost every college or university with a recreation, resource management, or parks management degree program is trying to emulate," said Jim Ridenour, Eppley Institute's first director and former NPS director.

The Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies Department has been providing degrees and formal education for the profession since 1946, along with a commitment to technical assistance, research and service through service arms like the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands. While the Eppley Institute has been highly involved with NPS partnership efforts, it has also partnered with state and federal agencies, including the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and municipalities as far away as Anchorage, Alaska, and as close as Bloomington, Ind. The Eppley Institute training Web site ( contains some of the courses developed by Institute faculty and staff.

Wolter can be reached at 812-855-7083 and