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Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands Leadership

The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands celebrates its 30th year in 2023, including our highly regarded National Center on Accessibility.  In that time, Eppley’s programs have led the way in creating more accessible, more well managed, and improved experiences for all people.  New ways to approach management of resources, the built environment, interpret places and culture, honor and protect resources, manage and plan for the future have been created by Eppley staff at locations across the nation.  And in that time, Eppley has been at the forefront of developing leaders for the parks, recreation and public lands management profession.  

Eppley staff has provided countless lectures and learning activities for leadership development including the IU Executive Development Program, Great Lakes Park Training Institute, and at national and state conferences. Starting in 2006, Eppley staff have taught 180 plus graduate students’ leadership at IU and also designed, developed and delivered a National Park Service  (NPS) employee leadership development program.  253 entry and mid-level NPS employees participated in this award-winning yearlong NPS training program named the Facility Manger Leaders Program (FMLP) with 86% of NPS FMLP graduates being promoted to park superintendent, regional leadership, and national leadership positions. 
Eppley Director Steve Wolter has been at the forefront of the leadership development learning that Eppley has delivered.  His thought on the  key to developing leaders?  “In the broader context, we all need to recognize that investing in leadership development is, in essence, investing in personal growth for ourselves and our organization employees. Leadership programs often emphasize qualities such as effective communication, strategic thinking, and conflict resolution – skills that not only benefit the organization but also foster personal mastery. And our approach at Eppley, emphasizing leadership mastery of ourselves, of others, and of organization systems, reflects that foundation of effective leadership development.” 

Eppley is announcing a broader leadership development program for park, recreation, and public land managers later this Fall.  The program, still in design, uses personal growth, sound understanding of leadership concepts and principles, application of leadership knowledge,  mentorship, and opportunities to lead as its approach.  It promotes the parallel paths of leadership development and personal growth facilitating a convergence over the training program.  Look for the program announcement in upcoming Eppley newsletters. 

What can you do in the short term to develop leadership competency?  Wolter suggests that a good first step is to be self-aware and embrace the idea of continuous learning.  “Great leaders are always learning and focused on how their approaches can empower followers.  Being a leader is perhaps the greatest honor a person can receive, but it can also be an overwhelming and humbling responsibility. Preparing for leadership should be considered not an arrival but a journey of self-development.” 

Here is a list of online leadership learning courses on proValens Learning, Eppley’s learning management system.  These courses are discounted by 30% this year in honor of Eppley’s 30th anniversary if you use the discount code “Leadership30”