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Doug Knapp
Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Debra Kent
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Last modified: Monday, October 23, 2006

Outdoor education expert from Indiana University to assist national parks summit

October 24, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Doug Knapp, associate professor in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, is participating in a two-day national summit this week that focuses on educational programming in the National Park Service.

Doug Knapp

Doug Knapp

Knapp, one of the National Park Service's lead researchers, said the summit marks the first time the upper echelon of the NPS has gathered to discuss educational programming. Knapp, whose research expertise involves evaluating educational programming, is serving on a panel of experts that will help these administrators set a research agenda geared toward determining whether existing programs are worthwhile and making a difference.

Knapp said this focus on evaluation and quality is a new direction for the NPS and a worthwhile initiative considering the scope of current educational offerings.

More than 360 national parks exist throughout the country with more than 40,000 people -- from full-time employees to volunteers -- delivering educational programs to tens of millions of people each year. These programs, Knapp said, can range from interpretive trails and 30-minute presentations about topics such as the Civil War or Native Americans, to more extensive residential experiences, including the NPS' sabbatical program for university professors and weeklong expeditions in Yellowstone National Park that allow participants to live in valleys near wolves.

"It's really exciting to be involved with this summit, to be able to help the NPS leadership determine its research agenda," said Knapp, who has examined 14 national parks -- including Yellowstone and Denali -- in the last seven years.

After the summit, called the "National Park Service Interpretation and Education Evaluation Summit," administrators will address NPS staff nationwide during a telecast geared toward clarifying their plans. The summit is being held on Wednesday and Thursday at the University of Denver.

Knapp can be reached before and after the summit at 812-855-3094 and