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Gary E. Everhardt Park Break Program

Everhardt’s Lessons in Leadership

George B. Hartzog, Jr.

Ninth director of the National Park Service (NPS), Gary E. Everhardt (3rd from left):

  • Started as an NPS engineer in 1957
  • Was Superintendent of Grand Teton N.P. and the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Led the Bicentennial celebration
  • Formed a policy council to produce service-wide management objectives
  • Created the first-ever national symposium on urban recreation

We were saddened to hear about the passing of Director Everhardt and his wife Nancy in December 2020. Read more about his achievements and legacy within the national park system

About the Program

Offered in partnership with the George Wright Society, the Gary E. Everhardt Park Break program is a nationally competitive and fully supported five to seven-day, park-based science, service-learning and stewardship program. Over 100 applicants apply for every Everhardt Park Break and between eight and ten graduate students considering careers in parks, protected areas and cultural sites are selected to develop solutions and explore topics of importance to the host park.

The program provides students with diverse backgrounds with experiences in protected areas, and is the only graduate-level service, science and stewardship program that focuses on scientific and other scholarly inquiry in a NPS park.

What You’ll Learn

Park Break participants benefit from the opportunity to:

  • Experience the challenges and rewards of managing a protected area.
  • Understand complexities of park management and research.
  • Explore a possible career with the NPS and interact with possible mentors.

A typical park break includes:

  • Direct field experiences in the host national park.
  • Interactions with top-level park personnel, staff/subject matter experts (such as biologists or historians), and outside scientists or scholars working in the park.
  • One or more excursions into the surrounding community.
  • Other interactions and presentations by local NGOs, elected officials, and community members. 

Opportunities for Host Parks

Managers of parks that host Park Break programs benefit by having a team of highly skilled and motivated graduate students develop solutions to an important park issue. Products can include:

  • Interpretive plans
  • Resource management plans
  • Social media analysis
  • Cultural resource inventories
  • Species monitoring plans
  • Social science needs assessments
  • Visitor management research
  • Future visitation modeling
  • Identifying promising new park employees and innovative collaborators.
  • Investing in the future of the NPS, its people, and its commitment to science-based stewardship.

Program Eligibility and Dates

Programs are offered in collaboration with host parks that work with CUIP and the George Wright Society. Program dates, specific topics and issues, and application requirements will vary depending on the host park’s area of focus.

Sponsor a Student

All donated funds will be used to support graduate students to participate in the Gary E. Everhardt Park Break program.  

A contribution of $3,500 will sponsor one graduate student, however every donation, no matter how small, helps contribute to providing graduate students with diverse backgrounds with experiences in protected areas. Levels of support include:

Director – $3,500 contribution

Helps us meet program costs for one student to participate in a Park Break program.

Superintendent – $2,000 contribution

Your inaugural contribution will help financially contribute to the development of this leadership program.

Ranger - $1,750 contribution (1/2 student)

Helps us meet ½ of the program costs for one student to participate in a Park Break program.


Every dollar donated by Friends of the Directors’ Leadership Academy will be applied to fund program costs for students to participate in a Park Break program.

Help send a student on a Gary E. Everhardt Park Break.  

If you prefer to mail your donation, please add “Clemson University - Gary E. Everhardt Program” to the Memo line of your check and address it to:

Clemson University Foundation
P.O. Box 1889
Clemson, SC 29633-1889