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Student Programs

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GWS Student Chapters

GWS Student chapters bring together like-minded students through the mentorship of professionals and educators on college campuses.  The chapters have the freedom to develop their own by-laws and develop objectives that meet the needs of their university and community while striving to carry out the mission of the George Wright Society.


Current GWS Student Chapters:

  • Clemson University

  • University of Utah

  • University of California - Merced

  • Kansas State University

  • University of Montana

  • North Carolina State University

  • Pennsylvania State university

  • Oregon State University


Benefits to students:

  • Opportunity to propose articles for Parks Stewardship Forum, where authors explore in detail issues of enduring interest to the parks and protected area community.

  • Student discount on the GWS Events 

  • Promoting diversity and relevancy within the protected area professional community through such programs as the George Melendez Wright Student Travel Assistance Program, the Native Participant Travel Grant Program, and Park Break.

  • Opportunities to connect with professionals through speaking series and webcasts.

  • Connections with professional mentors and networking opportunities.

  • The development of service projects in your community that promotes the mission and goals of the George Wright Society.

If you would like to create a chapter, or partner with an existing organization on your campus, please contact: Brian Peterson at 

The Gary E. Everhardt Park Break Program





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. Please visit the Park Break page for more information.

Joining a GWS Student Chapter is not just a smart career move — it’s a great way to have a great time with conservation-minded friends! Check out this awesome video the Kansas State Tallgrass Chapter made of their Spring 2020 camping trip at Buffalo National River in Arkansas. Great pix, great music, great fun!  Well done K-State!

Student Summits

George Wright Society Student Chapters launched the GWS Student Summits in 2016 to bring together students from a variety of disciplines to collaborate on parks and protected area management issues. Through the Summits, the GWS Student Chapters aim to create a culture of scholarship and stewardship in the research and management of parks and protected areas. Attendees at Student Summits get the chance to meet with peers to contemplate strategic issues in place-based conservation—and develop leadership skills.


The 2020 Student Summit will be the first to be held virtually (see right).

The theme of the Summit is Systemic Threats to Parks and Protected Areas. Within this theme we will focus our discussion on these 7 topics:


1) When green is blue: The diverse visitor and the militarization of law enforcement in PPAs. Purpose: to assess the internal barrier law enforcement presence in PPAs may pose when recruiting the diverse visitor.


2) Public data and GPS in wilderness and remote areas. Purpose: to explore how we, as researchers, can better collect visitor data in wilderness settings and remote PPA locations to further understand visitor use distributions.


3) Island biogeography and the impact of isolated PPAs. Purpose: using the Theory of Island Biogeography as a framework, we will look to determine the potential impact of this threat and develop recommendations to improve connectivity while incorporating the motivations, needs, and emotions of stakeholder groups.


4) Rediscovering our roots: Implementing minority-driven interpretive programs at PPAs to increase visitor diversity. Purpose: to examine the systemic erasure of displaced PoC and low income communities from PPAs and discuss the implications of creating interpretive programs that cater to these communities as a means of instilling place attachment to catalyse conservation stewardship.


5) Searching for the oars on the stewardship: An exploration of contemporary stewardship approaches for PPA management. Purpose: to propel the concept of stewardship forward through highlighting contemporary stewardship research offering an up-to-date review and developing new perspectives for PPA management. 


6) An investigation into changing perspectives, outlooks, and emotions of parks during and after COVID-19. Purpose: to examine how perspectives, outlooks, and emotions change regarding PPAs during three different temporal phases of COVID-19 progression.


7) When nature meets industry: Energy development and climate change effects in PPAs. Purpose: to explore how energy development and anthropogenic climate change threaten social, natural, and physical resources in parks and protected areas, especially the context of United States public land administration and recent political pressure to expand energy development.

Students will be writing papers on these topics for submission to Parks Stewardship Forum.

The first (2016) Student Summit was hosted by the University of Montana at Glacier National Park. The 2017 Student Summit was hosted by the University of Utah (see right).

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