Making Sure Parks Still Matter: The GWS's Diversity & Relevancy Programs

As the demographics of the United States continue to change in fundamental ways, conservationists are concerned about the lack of diversity in our professions. In addition, we face the prospect of our stewardship goals becoming less relevant as fewer and fewer young people develop strong ties to the natural world and their own cultural heritage.

The George Wright Society shares these concerns.  We are the country’s foremost interdisciplinary association of park professionals, and one of our strategic goals is to become a leader in promoting diversity within professions dealing with parks, protected areas, and cultural sites, and to increase the relevancy of these places in everybody's lives.

We do this through three programs: the George Melendez Wright Student Travel Scholarship, the Native Participant Travel Grant Program, and Park Break.  Here's a table comparing the main features.


GMW Student Travel Scholarships

Native Participant Travel Grant Program

Park Break


Give students experience at major professional conference

Engage Native people in dialogue; encourage sharing of Native perspectives

In-park seminar  gives students inside look at complexities of park & protected area management

Target audience

Minority students from under-represented ethnic, racial, cultural groups interested in parks-related careers

Native people from Canada, Mexico, USA

Students actively pursuing research, management, or education careers related to park/land management


Upper-level undergrads, grad students


Grad students


Biennial (for attendance at GWS Conference)

Biennial (for attendance at GWS Conference)



Students work with mentors to prepare conference presentations

Recipients encouraged to give presentations at conference; specially themed  sessions aimed at Native participants

Students follow intensive week-long schedule centered around research problem; combination of classroom & fieldwork


$1000 toward travel expenses

Stipend for travel to conference (varies from $500-3000)

All expenses paid (value approx. $1000 per  student)

GWS role/contribution

Organization and administration of program; conference fee waiver; complimentary GWS membership

Organization and administration of program; conference fee waiver; complimentary GWS membership

Organization and administration of program; complimentary GWS membership

Find out more:

Help us make sure parks still matter!

We are looking for partners who will help us expand these low-cost, high-impact programs. The cost to help underwrite a GMW Scholarship, Native Travel Grant, or Park Break fellowship is as low as $500. We work hard to make sure that your investment makes a difference in the “Next Generation.”  For more information, contact David Harmon, GWS Executive Director, at or by calling 1-906-487-9722.