Developing Leaders for a Transformed Parks

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Staff development is a critical underpinning of successful transformation. Last week, California State Parks initiated a pilot project to create a Parks Leadership Development Program (PLDP). The program will be developed in collaboration with California State University of Sacramento’s College of Continuing Education and park and recreation industry experts. PLDP will fast-track development of the knowledge and skills critical to advancing California State Park’s mission in the 21st century.

The comprehensive curriculum will cover all facets of mission-based program management including:

  • Administrative services
  • Cultural and natural resources
  • Visitor services
  • Public safety
  • Interpretation and education
  • Facilities

Course content will also cover service-driven functions such as marketing, community engagement, and technology among others. Finally, PLDP will infuse modern leadership development practices to improve how staff lead themselves, their teams and California State Parks as an organization.

The pilot project program will be managed by the department’s training office in close coordination with subject matter experts throughout the development, implementation and evaluation process. PLDP is anticipated to start this fall with the first students completing the program by spring of next year.

The initial pilot will lay the groundwork for leadership development across all levels of the organization to establish an internal leadership pipeline. The vision for the long-term program will address succession planning, knowledge transfer, mentorship, and other areas of staff development to ensure a relevant, dynamic, and united California State Park System.

The Transformation Team would like to thank all those who contributed to the initial program concept including Debbie Fredricks, Adrien Contreras, Lori Turner, Steve Ptomey, Ken Kietzer, Robin Greene, John Fraser, Dana Jones, Jason De Wall, Will Schaafsma, Jared Zucker and Karl Knapp.

Should you have any questions on the Parks Leadership Development Program, please e-mail us at

Stay tuned as more deliverables are debuted from the Transformation Team.


  • Stay abreast of the Transformation Team’s progress on their website.
  • The Transformation Team is interested to know your ideas, thoughts and comments. Let us know what you think.
  • Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook and stay updated on #TransformationTuesdays!


Featured Image Caption: Ocotillo Wells SVRA Park Interpretive Specialist Megan Parde with her campers during the 3rd Annual Kid’s Adventure Connection Campout

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