What one knows one loves best : a brief administrative history of science education in the national parks, 1916-1925
Smith, Diane Marie
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This study focuses on the early administrative history of the National Park Service (NPS) science education and interpretation programs. In particular, it examines 1) how publicists, academics, and park rangers initiated science and natural history programming in the early years of the National Park Service; 2) how these three approaches eventually gave way to the more pragmatic NPS emphasis on hiring ranger naturalists with training in the sciences to implement park educational programs; and, briefly, 3) how the establishment of the NPS education division in 1925, as equal to the engineering and landscape divisions, effectively institutionalized the ranger naturalist approach to science education of park visitors. The study relies primarily on documents from the National Park Service, including reports, proceedings, correspondence, training manuals, and materials produced for the visiting public to document the evolution of science education within the service as evidenced in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. While every effort has been made to understand the economic, social, and political context of this particular chapter of NPS history, the study does not attempt to look beyond the administrative history of the National Park Service itself. Rather, it is meant to serve as a baseline for additional research into how these early science education programs can be viewed in the context of other social and cultural movements, as well as the history of science and science education in early twentieth century America.