The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, announced the establishment of the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership on January 13, 2021.
The Fulbright Program and the National Park Service pledged to combine efforts, resources, and ideas to increase environmental and cultural awareness throughout the world through Fulbright exchanges. The virtual signing ceremony to establish the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership was the inaugural event of the Fulbright Program’s 75th anniversary year.
“I am delighted to inaugurate our Fulbright 75th anniversary year with this important partnership. The relationships and ideas that come out of Fulbright exchanges in national parks all over the world will help increase the understanding about some of the most incredible and important places on our planet. This will help with our conservation efforts around the world to ensure that these sacred places are around to teach and inspire us for many more years.” Stated Paul Winfree Fulbright Board Chair.
The MOU was signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director Margaret Everson, and Fulbright Board Chair Paul Winfree.
Assistant Secretary Marie Royce applauded the partnership, saying, “This strategic partnership will deepen and expand our organizations’ collaboration to advance international scholarship and research, primarily by ensuring more Fulbright participants come from, and are placed at, our National Parks.”
The agreement establishes the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership to strengthen and deepen linkages between the Fulbright Program and the National Park Service, and encourage new collaboration. The partners identified additional opportunities for Fulbright Program participants to study and gain professional experience within U.S. national parks and for U.S. National Park rangers to explore national parks systems around the world to advance protection and conservation efforts at home.
Additionally, the partnership will create more opportunities for Fulbright students, scholars, and professionals, including Humphrey Fellows (a Fulbright activity), from around the world to learn about America’s treasure, its National Parks, during their Fulbright exchanges in the United States.
Joining the virtual ceremony were two U.S. National Park Rangers who are also Fulbright alumni. John Duwe, education coordinator at the Crater Lake National Park in Oregon completed a Fulbright Specialist program with Triglav National Park in Slovenia in 2017. During the virtual ceremony, he remarked, “My mission was a technical exchange to share best practices in environmental education and outreach. I broadened my horizons and teaching philosophy as I learned the stories of a far away place.” He continued by sharing, “The Fulbright Specialist Program allowed me to share my passion for our national parks in a way I never thought possible. It helped prepare me to be a leader in our global effort to be stewards of Earth.”
David Manski, a retired National Park Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine was a Fulbright Scholar in India in 2013-2014. Joining the ceremony from Maine, he commented, “This experience was one of the highlights of my 35-year professional career. Learning about many of the same conservation challenges and opportunities we face in the US, but in different cultural and political landscape was incredibly valuable.” Manski continued by sharing “I am very excited about this important collaboration between the NPS and the Fulbright program. This initiative can clearly benefit both organizations and will be an appropriate milestone to mark the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright program.”