The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Climate Change Training Needs Assessment - Intermountain Region, National Park Service

The National Park Service Intermountain Region (IMR) partnered with the University of Arizona, to assess climate change training needs for over 5,000 IMR employees. We evaluated baseline climate literacy and employee training preferences, and outlined plans for climate change training. We identified the following baseline climate knowledge characteristics: a lack of discernment between climate variability and trends, good understanding of key phenomena, such as El Niño, good identification of observed impacts, but little knowledge of climate projections for the IMR. IMR employees identified the following challenges for implementing a training program: adequate information communication technology, adequate funding, clear guidance on actions and policy changes, and communicating with climate change skeptics. To ensure success, IMR employees recommended that training connect global changes to regional impacts and local solutions, and demonstrate relevance to job duties. Interviewees preferred interactive, hands-on learning experiences, but agreed to use electronic media, if costs constrain program development. They identified information overload as a problem, which suggests that information be packaged in FAQs, fact sheets, and brief videos. To meet diverse needs, within fiscal constraints, we recommend a modular program, leveraging existing well-vetted information resources. We evaluated over 150 websites, and found adequate online training for climate change literacy, but a lack of training on mitigation and adaptation.
 
Survey and interview results, and our observations of the rapid proliferation of climate information, on the Internet and within the NPS, suggest the need for structures to organize information, in a way that relates closely to IMR employees’ work-related duties. Two challenges for implementing climate change training are keeping pace with changing information in this dynamic information environment, and producing sufficient NPS IMR-specific materials. We note several bright spots and opportunities to leverage federal and NPS efforts to produce, implement, and maintain information and training. These include efforts, such as the Department of Interior Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and Climate Science Centers, NOAA’s Climate Service initiative, and insights produced by George Melendez Wright Climate Change fellowship research. The upcoming U.S. National Climate Assessment effort will bolster IMR’s efforts to develop region-specific and up-to-date materials.
 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE TRAINING NEEDS ASSESSMENT REPORT
Report Abstract:
The National Park Service Intermountain Region partnered with the University of Arizona, to assess climate change training needs for over 5,000 Intermountain Region employees. The assessment team evaluated baseline climate literacy and employee training preferences, and outlined plans for climate change training. In the literacy assessment, the team identified adequate understanding of key climate phenomena, such as El Niño, but a lack of discernment between climate variability and trends, and little knowledge of climate projections for the Intermountain Region. Analysis of surveys and interviews showed that Intermountain Region employees are concerned with the following training program implementation issues: information communication technology, funding, clear guidance on actions and policy changes, and communication with climate change skeptics. Intermountain Region employees recommended that training connect global changes to regional impacts and local solutions, and demonstrate relevance to job duties. They preferred interactive, group, and hands-on learning experiences, but agreed to use electronic media, if costs constrain program development. They identified information overload as a problem. To meet diverse needs, within fiscal constraints, we recommend a modular program, leveraging existing well-vetted information resources. From a website evaluation exercise, we found adequate online training for climate change literacy, but a lack of training on topics such as mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
 
For a PDF of the report, see Attachment.
 
Publications:
Garfin, G., H. Hartmann, M. Crescioni-Benitez, T. Ely, J. Keck, J.W. Kendrick, K. Legg, and J. Wise, 2011. Climate-Friendly Park Employees: The Intermountain Region’s climate change training assessment. Park Science 28(1): 30-36. 
 
G. Garfin, H. Hartmann, M. Crescioni-Benitez, T. Ely, J. Keck, J. Kendrick, K. Legg, and J. Wise. 2011. Climate-Friendly Park Employees: A Climate Change Training Needs Assessment for the National Park Service Intermountain Region. In S. Weber (ed.) Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2011 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society, pp. 105-112.
 
Conferences:
Ely, T., 2011. Climate Friendly Park Employees, Part I: Overview of the IMR’s Climate Change Training Assessment Project. The George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas & Cultural Sites, March 14-18, 2011, New Orleans, LA.
 
Garfin, G., M. Crescioni Benitez, H. Hartmann, L. Graumlich, J. Overpeck, 2011. Climate Friendly Park Employees, Part II: Recommendations for Intermountain Region Climate Change Training. The George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas & Cultural Sites, March 14-18, 2011, New Orleans, LA.

 
Related Link: National Park Service Climate Change Program
 
Project Team:
Dr. Gregg Garfin, University of Arizona
Dr. Holly Hartmann, University of Arizona
Mabel Crescioni Benitez, University of Arizona
Theresa Ely, National Park Service Intermountain Region
John Keck, National Park Service Montana and Wyoming State Coordinator
Jim Kendrick, National Park Service Northeast Region Archeology Program
Kristin Legg, National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, Bozeman, MT
Janet Wise, Intermountain Region (retired)
 
Funding:
National Park Service, through the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit
 
Acknowledgments:
Dr. Lisa Graumlich, University of Washington
Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona
Dr. Kiyomi Morino, University of Arizona
Zackry Guido, CLIMAS
Dr. Michael Crimmins, University of Arizona
Chris Hansen, University of Arizona