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The Gary E. Everhardt

Park Break Program

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The Gary E. Everhardt Park Break Program is a week-long, park-based fellowship and field seminar for graduate students who are seriously thinking about a career in park management or park-related research and education.  Students explore topics of importance to the host park and interact with park researchers, natural and cultural resource managers, and policymakers.

Since being created by GWS in 2007, over 100 students have participated in Park Breaks.  Starting in 2019, Park Break is co-organized by the Clemson University Institute for Parks and the George Wright Society. The program now honors Gary E. Everhardt, the ninth director of the US National Park Service (NPS).

Park Break is a fellowship program -- all student expenses are covered!


What’s unique about Park Break?

  • Top-level students: Masters & PhDs; 8 per session

  • Students interact with park professional staff and external partners

  • Mix of classroom and field-based activities

  • Each session has a specific theme; for example:

    • Energy development impacts on park

    • Making NPS historic sites more relevant to diverse communities

  • Students assigned a specific project related to theme; for example:

    • Students created a lesson module on energy impacts for a local environmental education center

    • Students reflected on their own experiences (6 of the 8 students were people of color) with heritage preservation sites

  • Highly competitive: over 100 applicants for each of the past two sessions

Announcing the 2022 Park Break: Community-Based Tourism at El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico • May 15–22, 2022  •  Deadline to Apply: March 11

Applications are being accepted for participation in a sustainable community-based tourism planning focused Gary E. Everhardt Park Break Program at El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. The objective of this program is for students to identify community assets that would provide opportunities for sustainable and resilient community-based tourism that will effectively distribute visitation and the economic benefits of tourism. The results of this effort will integrate into planning across a diverse regional landscape as well as for El Yunque National Forest. USDA Forest Service joins Clemson and GWS as partner-organizers for the 2022 session.

El Yunque National Forest has an array of historical, cultural, and natural assets including a range of tourism facilities in the surrounding gateway communities. However due to recent storms and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism economy of Puerto Rico, it is unclear what assets are currently viable and what the market will support post-Covid-19. This Everhardt Park Break program will conduct a feasibility study identifying potential tourism assets and infrastructure development needs in the immediate region of El Yunque National Forest and build off prior work focused on market analysis and visitation. This assessment will be grounded in sound business planning practices, while also incorporating the values of the local communities, and will include identifying potential implementation projects with an eye toward a sustainable revenue model.

Who is eligible?
Graduate students (Ph.D. or Master’s level) who are studying in fields related to tourism, business management, parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. We are also interested in students with an interest and/or understanding in protected area policy, ecology, communications (including social media), and marketing.

For more information and how to apply:
Visit and to learn more about the opportunity and to apply. Deadline is March 11, 2022.

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