Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park. Photo Credit: Suzanne Thurston. All rights reserved.
National parks are amongst the treasures of the United States, valuable both in their own right as entities for preserving the natural and cultural history of our nation and the world and for the experiences they offer to their visitors. As the parks enter their second century, scientists are eager to renew the collaboration they have shared with park staff and visitors over the past hundred years and to expand on it in the years to come.
To facilitate this process, AAAS, in partnership with Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Maine, the National Park Service, and other organizations, has developed an initiative, Second Century Stewardship, to explore the scientific fodder found in America's national parks. This new venture intends to:
- Expand scientific research in national parks in order to promote conservation science, including the care of natural and cultural resources;
- Bolster public understanding of the value that parks have for science and that science has for both parks and society; and
- Use park science for education and public outreach.
The collaboration is being launched as a pilot program with Acadia National Park and Schoodic Institute, where it will be tested and evaluated in preparation to expand to parks and research learning centers elsewhere in the country. The initiative will offer fellowships for park-based investigations and connect scientists and their research with educators, students, and the public.
Earlier this month, the first Second Century Stewardship Research Fellow was announced: Elizabeth “Abbey” L. Paulson, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Colorado, will conduct research at Acadia National Park through 2017. Paulson will study the biodiversity of Acadia's Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle au Haut to better understand how the environment shapes ecological communities.
Initial funding for the initiative comes from a $1 million grant from David Shaw, treasurer of AAAS, executive producer of the film Second Century Stewardship: Science beyond the Scenery in Acadia National Park, and managing partner of the Black Point Group LP.
Educational components developed through the Second Century Stewardship initiative will be shared through Science NetLinks. We look forward to creating a variety of resources to help encourage students to explore nature in their national parks, through the interactivitiy of the Internet, and in their own backyards.
In the meantime, you can find park-centric resources in our collection Celebrating Our National Parks.