MGA Faculty Member Among Participants Of AASCU Partnership with Glacier National Park

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 12:00 AM
Categories: School of Education and Behavioral Sciences | Faculty/Staff | Pressroom

Washington, D.C.

Dr. Julie Lester

WASHINGTON – More than a dozen members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) have been selected to participate in the association’s Stewardship of Public Lands program, an initiative of AASCU’s American Democracy Project.

Twenty-two participants, representing 14 institutions from 12 states and including Dr. Julie Lester of Middle Georgia State University, are taking part in the Stewardship of Public Lands program. That program aims to foster innovative regional collaborations, responsible stewardship practices, and experiential learning by bringing a variety of higher education practitioners to Glacier National Park.

The participants will apply strategies to spark thoughtful discourse and an appreciation of our national parks within curricular and cocurricular opportunities for university students of all backgrounds. The design of the program is to build a diverse community of university faculty, staff, and leaders who can promote access to national parks as grounds for studying sustainability, learning from Indigenous and community members, and building civic skills.

“The Stewardship of Public Lands program enables our cohort to explore multiple perspectives on how to appreciate and understand our natural resources, build bridges that foster collaboration, and share their work and commitment with our AASCU campuses,” said Terry Brown, AASCU’s vice president of Academic Innovation and Transformation.

Lester, an MGA political science professor, has been working with the program as a civic fellow for the American Democracy Project. She and the other participants have been meeting virtually over the last few months and will travel to Glacier National Park in June for the field seminar.

“I’ve enjoyed learning about sustainability initiatives that have been implemented or are going to be implemented on campuses and in communities across the United States,” Lester said, “and etworking with colleagues from other AASCU campuses about how we can build opportunities for expanding environmental education on campus and in the community.”

In addition to Lester, members of this year’s cohort are:

Scott W. Bonham, Western Kentucky University
Paul Cook, Indiana University Kokomo
Tiffany Deater, State University of New York at Oswego
Kyle Fredrick, Pennsylvania Western University
Lesley Graybeal, University of Central Arkansas
Jarrod Hagadorn, State University of New York at Oswego
Hannah Hanshaw, University of Central Arkansas
Ian Kaleo’okalani Pilago, University of Hawai’i at Hilo
Steven Koether, Sam Houston State University (TX)
Katrina Lacher, University of Central Oklahoma
Matthew S. Makley, Metropolitan State University of Denver (CO)
Cayle Moreo, Indiana State University
Alana Ortiz, University of Hawai’i at Hilo
Sarah Praskievicz, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Nathan A. Schaumleffel, Indiana State University
Nona Shipman, Metropolitan State University of Denver (CO)
Jennifer Stotter, University of Hawai’i at Hilo
Scott Turner, University of Montevallo (AL)
Jeffrey Wozniak, Sam Houston State University (TX)
Kim Yates, Northern Kentucky University
Katherine Young, University of Hawai’i at Hilo

To support this work, the National Park Foundation’s ParkVentures program recently announced a $20,000 grant to AASCU to “promote access, eliminate barriers, and offer positive, memorable experiences to engage individuals and communities that have historically been excluded from national parks and outdoor recreation.” AASCU is a champion for the accessibility of higher education, and the Stewardship of Public Lands program demonstrates that learning happens beyond university spaces and that partnering with national parks is an innovative and productive path to engage learners.

Since 2004, more than 170 participants from over 80 AASCU member institutions have benefited from the Stewardship of Public Lands program held at Yellowstone National Park. This year marks the first time AASCU and its cohort will visit Glacier National Park.

News release source: The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.