Leardership in the National Parks

May 31, 2018

Each spring, Kuyper College offers a selection of intensive programs—some of which include a travel component. This year, one such course took 15 students to the west coast to participate in the new Leadership in the National Parks course with Professor Marc Andreas, director of the Business Leadership program. After a week of classroom discussions, students traveled to California and visited three state parks and two national parks: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Big Sur State Park, Morro Bay State Park, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. 

Students interviewed leaders who operated the parks and also enjoyed incredible views and hiking at each park. Andreas explained the leadership focus for the course, “We studied servant leadership and other leadership models, then were able to compare them to the leaders we met and interviewed in California.” With partnership from A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP), students took a leadership assessment profile and received their own individualized results.

Many students took this course as part of their Business Leadership program and were challenged to consider various aspects of stewardship, including how to run an organization when the environment is the product.  Andreas said that they studied different Christian perspectives on the environment along with the triple bottom line approach to management “including social, environmental and financial stewardship in the running of any organization—including state and national parks.” Among the leaders interviewed at the National Parks were nine senior leaders who manage over 1000 employees and a budget of $150 million per year for Yosemite National Park.

When reflecting on the experience, many students expressed awe at the power and majesty of God’s creation. Sophomore Business Leader Major, Hannah Adkins said, “One thing I learned while on this trip and hiking through nature, was how small I am. It really put everything in perspective; God is the creator, I am the creation.” Moses Kayuni, a Junior Business Leader Major described the course as a hands-on work experience, “This a whole different level of learning from that of a classroom setting. It encouraged a deep and active learning experience.”

Andreas said there was so much interest in the course he had to limit participation to only 15 students. He hopes to offer this travel course every two years and plans to take the 2020 class to the Rocky Mountains to see several national parks, including Yellowstone.