Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
THE FIELD OF EDUCATION IN THE NATIONAL PARKS
THE “POPULAR” INTERPRETATION OF SCIENCE
By Carl P. Russell
In searching for an avenue of approach to the subject I found very little in the way of published material which would suggest ideas. I turned to a study of the question, “What agencies are attempting to popularize science?” and disclosed the fact that activities in this line of endeavor are numerous and wide spread. As examples of the active agencies in popularizing sciences the following may be cited:
American Game Protective Association. — Publishes monthly journal – Bulletin of American Game Protective Association. Conducts re searches in problems pertaining to game.
National Conference on Outdoor Recreation. — Cooperative association of many organizations interested in promotion and development of one or more kinds of recreation, in the use of which the land, water, forest, plant, scenic or wild life resources of the U. S. figure. Publishes bulletins from time to time.
National Association of Audubon Societies. — Devoted to protection of birds and animals. Publishes Bird Lore, bird pictures and leaflets and various bulletins and pamphlets on birds.
American Forestry Association. — Founded on the principle that education is the basis of proper care and use of our forests. Publishes American Forests and Forest Life.
National Parks Association. — To promote the educational and inspirational use of the National Park System. Publishes National Parks Bulletin.
U. S. Bureau of Biological Survey. — Investigates the economic relations and environmental needs of wild life in general, Results of investigations are made public. Publishes in the bulletins and other series of the Department of Agriculture. Publications cannot be called popular but personnel of bureau cooperates with most of the organizations engaged in popularizing science.
Izaak Walton League of America. — Exercises preventive measures against the pollution of streams, destruction of forests, and promotes conservation of natural resources in general. Publishes Outdoor America to which scientists contribute.
Science Service. — Cooperates with the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the popularization of Science. Publishes Science News Letter. Weekly.
When we attempt to analyze the motives that prompt the activity of these organizations we find that conservation of natural assets is in almost every instance the object in their endeavors. They strive for (1) preservation of fish and game, (2) preservation and appreciation of general fauna, (3) preservation and appreciation of general flora, (4) preservation and appreciation of physiographic features, and (5) establishment, preservation and appreciation of natural land areas.
It is hardly necessary to point out that all of these endeavors coincide with the activities in which we are engaged, and that we may rightly be listed as one of the most important agencies now giving popular interpretation of Science. Dr. J. D. Merriam, in a recent memorandum to the Director of the National Park Service states, “the opportunity (for popular interpretation of science) – in national parks – exceeds that of any great educational institution or group of institutions, and it is essential that there be leadership of the highest type for definition of the problems, furtherance of the researches, and for selection and guidance of the men to assist the public in understanding the material presented to them.”
We may look upon Dr. Merriam’s recognition of our opportunities as significant and, I believe, we may well consider his comment regarding our Park Naturalist personnel as indicative of the fact that we are under observation by those most vitally interested in conservation problems of the nation.
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6. Merriam, J. C Suggestions regarding significance of problems in the field of geological sciences in connection with an educational program in national parks. Ms.
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