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A New Century for the NPS [2000s]

Roosevelt Arch at north entrance to Yellowstone National Park
A new century - A new mission:

In 2000, the NPS updated its agency mission, consolidating and articulating changes that had occurred over eight decades. The updated mission reads as follows:

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

While reusing much of the language of earlier generations, the new statement also accepts the validity of outdoor recreation and recognizes important roles for partners. The revised statement also lists "inspiration" and "education," in addition to enjoyment, as NPS goals, placing an added emphasis on interpretive and educational activities. These activities have become a hallmark of the NPS, supplementing the pure pleasure of enjoying nature's wonders and embracing the nation's heritage.

Photo: Roosevelt Arch at north entrance to Yellowstone National Park

NPS ranger with two children
Emphasis on customer service:

As the 20th century drew to a close, the NPS embraced still another important initiative. To enhance its service and its relationship with the public, the NPS developed a messaging project —a tool to help all employees communicate consistently with the public.

The centerpiece of this messaging project is a simple, clear, one-sentence statement: "The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage." NPS employees and partners have also developed a series of organizational statements, or "messages," to help bridge the gap between what the NPS is and what the public thinks it is. Another key phrase that resulted from the NPS Messaging Project is "Experience Your America."


Key Terms:

Interpretation, with respect to the outdoor education field, refers to the discipline of informal education that "aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information." (Tilden, 1957)