Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM AND ITS PLACE IN NATIONAL PARKS ADMINISTRATION
WHAT PART SHOULD THE PARK NATURALIST PLAY IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROGRAM OF HIS DEPARTMENT?
By Dorr G. Yeager
In several pieces of literature the Park Naturalist is referred to as “the educational administrative officer of the park”. He is the officer upon whom the entire administration of the Educational Department devolves according to the Yosemite Plan of Administration, as approved by the Director.
Obviously the situation varies in different parks and the part which the Park Naturalist plays in the administration of his program varies with conditions. In the smaller parks where the staff is composed of a Park Naturalist and only one or two Ranger Naturalists it is necessary for the former not only to plan the work but to take an active part in the lectures and field trips. On the other hand, in parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone, with the varied activities, it is necessary for the Park Naturalist to spend a considerable portion of his time in planning and administering his organization activities.
In my opinion, the Park Naturalist should possess full administrative power over his department, receiving his instructions from his Superintendent in regard to change of policy, etc. It has proven necessary in Yellowstone, due to the large staff of summer men,to appoint a Head Ranger Naturalist as a summer assistant. His duties are to organize the summer work with my help and to see that the organization runs smoothly throughout the season. Fortunately, the man chosen for this position is one in whom I have thorough confidence. This arrangement leaves me free for the many other duties such as museums, office work, nature notes, special parties, books, etc. I have found it absolutely necessary to assign certain duties to the Head Ranger Naturalist and to my assistant in order that I may keep a perspective of the work as a whole, as well as carry on other important duties. With a large organization, especially where museums are established or in the process of establishment, it is necessary for the Park Naturalist to portion out the work, and absolutely impossible for him to oversee each phase of the work in its entirety. I am of the opinion that the more details a subordinate can shoulder responsibly, the better position his superior is in to maintain and plan an efficient organization.
During the winter months I have a full time assistant and again I have been extremely fortunate in obtaining a good man. I have found very little real call for administration in my department during the winter months. Each week, on Monday, in fact, we talk over the work for the coming week and a schedule of work is drawn up for both of us, and posted. In addition, a second bulletin is posted, upon which appears all of the projects remaining for the winter and the date upon which each project should be completed. This not only aids us in retaining a bird’s eye view of the entire work but it also keeps before us the necessity of completing each project in the allotted time.
In the administration of an educational department in a national park a strict policy should be adhered to in regard to those who give and those who receive instructions. Theoretically orders should come from one person, the Superintendent. This is far from the case, however, especially where outside committees are concerned. When such a thing is permitted a labyrinth of conflicting instructions are given, not only to the Park Naturalist but to the staff.
In closing, let us sum up the answer to the question “What part should the Park Naturalist play in the administrative program of his department?” In brief it is this:
The Park Naturalist should spend sufficient time in the actual program of public activities to keep his perspective of the work as a whole. As much administrative responsibility as possible should be given to subordinates and the whole program so arranged that instructions are received from one man only.