Partners in the Parks

An Experiential Learning Opportunity

Partners in the Parks is an outdoor experiential learning program that partners National Parks with host University Honors programs in the region to create week-long adventures in education. Over the course of these programs, University faculty and National Park employees give students a unique understanding of both the natural and cultural diversity of the park as well as research and management issues unique to the park. Students not only get to see what a park really "is" and "does" by meeting the incredible people whose research and work ensure its survival, but also enjoy recreating in some of America's most scenic destinations.

In 2014 eight programs are being planned in different National Parks across the country. After hosting three PITP programs in Olympic National Park, the University of Washington Honors Program is pleased to offer its first program in Mt Rainier National Park in August 2014. Students are encouraged to travel to a park and program not hosted by their own University and instead explore a new region of America; priority for the UW Mt Rainier Program will be given to students from Honors Programs at other institutions.

UW Honors students may meet the Experiential Learning leadership requirement by participating in any Partners in the Parks program. Please see an Honors adviser for information regarding an additional leadership project and look at our Experiential Learning website for more on the requirement and application process.

Learn more about Partners in the Parks -- and see which Parks will participate this year -- by visiting the website: http://nchchonors.org/partners-in-the-parks/. From there, you can also read more about the individual programs and enroll in a program!

Rialto Beach with Park Archeologist Dave Conca
Hiking the Snyder-Jackson trail in the Hoh River Valley
In the Hoh
Tree coring with UW Climate Scientist Jeremy Littell
At the top of Klahane Ridge
"Check out the mountain goat!"
"Field" research with ONP Research Coordinator Jerry Freilich
Beautiful wildflowers on the PJ Lake trail
Mist in the trees at the PJ Lake trailhead
Mt. Olympus from Hurricane Ridge
2011 ONP PitP crew
Sunset at Hurricane Ridge

We thrilled to once again be able to offer one Partners in the Parks scholarship to cover the registration fee of a 2015 Partners in the Park program.

Please note the following in regards to this award:

  • Applicants must be UW Honors students in good academic standing within the UW and the Honors Program. Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors students are all eligible.
  • Applicants must have enrolled in a 2015 Partners in the Parks program. Please note that enrolling in a program does not guarantee or confirm your participation; enrollment is only confirmed once your registration fee has been paid. See the Partners in the Parks website to enroll in a program.
  • Scholarship funds may only be used towards the registration fee of a 2015 Partners in the Parks program. The registration fee generally does not cover travel costs, gear or lodging before or after the program. Contact the specific program director of your chosen program for questions and details.
  • Scholarship awardees will be responsible for completing a short written reflection after returning from their program, as well as participating in the publicizing of and recruitment for future Partners in the Parks programs

Past awardees

Dana Reid - Black Canyon of the Gunnison 2015

Dana Reid - Black Canyon 2015
Black Canyon National Park

I had very clear expectations for what my Partners in the Park experience would entail: I’d see some stunning scenery, learn a thing or two about our National Park system, and most importantly just get away from the city... Looking back, I was a bit too focused on this simple goal of escape to really consider what else this trip could offer me. Certainly a pouring thunderstorm, jumping into an ice-cold river, watching a meteor shower from the top of a van, plus a dozen informative and engaging talks with Rangers, haikus, and a fireside presentation from a cowboy poet were not in the original plan for my week in Colorado—but I’m very glad they were.

Benjamin Lennon - Glacier National Park 2014

Benjamin Lennon - Partners in the Park 2014
Benjamin Lennon, political science

In a normal setting, any talk that begins with “Now, let’s talk about how to be happy while you might in fact be miserable” is not the precursor to a fun outing. The phrase generally conjures a negative image of the activity to come and may contribute to you actually being more miserable in the coming moments then you might otherwise be.

This, however, was not a normal setting.

Anjelica Harlow - Black Canyon of the Gunnison 2013

I wanted to go on an adventure not because I was a seasoned traveler and had stayed static for too long, but instead because I had, in fact, hardly ever traveled and was beginning to feel too comfortable... I had never done what I was about to do and my only prior experience in Colorado was a turbulent landing and long layover in the Denver International Airport. I knew no one who lived there. Knew very little about where I was going. And was doing it all on my own.

Madison Mayfield - Acadia National Park 2012

On Mount Desert Island, Maine sits Acadia National Park. Few consider it splendid enough to group with the more celebrated National Parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, yet in the frigid northeastern tip of the US it waits for those eager to discover its beauty, and this past summer I was given the opportunity to do just that.