Delaware North Parks & Resorts at Yellowstone and West Yellowstone launched two formal education programs specifically for employees in 2014. There are two types of training, one for front line employees and the other for key management.
Discover Yellowstone Training Program
The Discover Yellowstone Employee Education Program was introduced in May for the operations in Yellowstone National Park and the hotels located in the park’s gateway community of West Yellowstone.
The goal of the program is to provide associates with accurate and up-to-date information about the Yellowstone region. The program integrates education with customer service techniques allowing staff to become well-versed, reliable resources for park guests.
Discover Yellowstone includes three levels of interpretive guide certification: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Each level requires specific tasks, experiences, assignments, and tests that must be completed to earn each certification. Program requirements include visiting National Park Service visitor’s centers, attending Ranger led programs, visiting other Yellowstone General Store locations, reading guide books, and passing level appropriate tests. “This program provides a great opportunity for our associates to learn more about the park and to get out and explore,” says Kent Leininger, Director of Human Resources. “We highly encourage all associates to participate.”
The program has only been running for a couple of months, yet nearly 50 employees have achieved certification.
“Participants have been very enthusiastic about the program. We already have employees certified at the gold guide level and they are asking ‘what’s next?” says Justin Cook, Environmental and Interpretive Director. “We really wanted this program to be fun, educational and creative, and it looks like it’s turning out that way.”
Resource Management Training Program
The Delaware North management team in the Yellowstone region also took it upon themselves this year to adopt the Resource Management Training curriculum, created in partnership with Eppley Institute, for key management staff and executives related to park and resource management with a specific focus on Yellowstone National Park.
The goal of this program is to have Delaware North management gain a better understanding of various National Park Service perspectives – especially with culture and language – in order to improve communication. Overall, the goals of the Resource Management Training course are to educate staff so that they have:
- A general understanding of park and public land agency mission, functions, and organizational culture, and the common foundation of stewardship shared by the National Park Service and Parks and Resorts.
- An understanding of the history of resorts and concessions as a foundational part of National Park Service creation.
- A working knowledge of the laws, regulations, and policies that affect the host agency, including NPS DO 48, Superintendent’s Compendium, and park-specific policy documents including GMP, Comprehensive Interpretive Plan, etc.
- An appreciation for and detailed understanding of the requirements of the concessionaire evaluation process utilized by the host agency, including the inspection requirements.
- Ability to interface clearly and concisely with host agency representatives on facility management and scheduling and cultural and natural resource protection practices specifically used by the host agency.
- Ability to practice appropriate and effective informal visitor contacts and interpretive foundational practices that align with Parks and Resorts guest path requirements.
- A thorough understanding of the basis of meaningful partnerships and techniques that is foundational for effective team and/or work group function.
- A solid foundational knowledge of and ability to apply leadership approaches related to NPS leadership competencies in stewardship, leading change, building coalitions, and leading people.
The curriculum focuses on six major topic areas:
- Concessions and the NPS
- Resource Stewardship in the National Park Service
- Informal Visitor Contacts
- Communication and Leadership in Working with Parks & Public Lands Agencies
- Facility Management Practices
- The NPS Inspection Process
This month, key management staff will have completed half of the course requirements and are on track to complete the entire course by year end. Local National Park Service concessions staff are invited to attend and participate in order to bring a well rounded perspective to each of these sessions.
Derek Zwickey, Regional Vice President states, “When it comes to our managers and associates, continuing education is a key component in the delivery of excellent customer service. One has to understand the place in which they work, the product they work with, and deliver that to the people they interact with on a daily basis. Discover Yellowstone challenges our associates to become experts in all things Yellowstone so they can convey their knowledge of the area when presented with a question from a guest. In addition, Resource Management training focuses on the National Park Service and their rules and regulations. Getting a better understanding of how they approach management of the Parks helps us operate within their boundaries and gives us a common language.”
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