Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Movement Sciences


Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies

Committee Director

Chris A. B. Zajchowski

Committee Member

Eddie Hill

Committee Member

Jessica Fefer


Washington D.C. has witnessed many watershed events throughout the history of the United States of America. One of these events was the Summer in the Parks (SITP) program organized by the National Park Service (NPS) from 1968-1976. Summer in the Parks was a community-based series of events including concerts, park visits, and exhibitions designed to quell racial tensions and promote park usage. Researchers have begun chronicling SITP, but have yet to explore how the story of SITP is conveyed by park interpreters to visitors and subsequently what themes are shared to inform public understanding of the historic relationship between NPS resources in the National Capital Area and individuals identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). This research sought to understand where and how SITP is interpreted in the National Capital Area, Region 1 (hereafter referred to as the NCA), what methods are used to produce interpretive programs for SITP, and NPS employees’ perspectives on the role of the SITP story in the NCA. In-depth interviews with 5 interpretive program managers were conducted to understand their experience interpreting SITP and how they perceive SITP relates to the larger community engagement narrative woven through the Washington D.C, the NCA, and the NPS. Specifically, we were interested in how interpreters made sense of SITP and its relationship with the current narrative surrounding the engagement of BIPOC visitors at NPS units. Interviews were then analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis to better understand how interpreters make sense of and perceive the opportunities they provide visitors to engage with this history. Results will inform future SITP interpretation, as well as how SITP is situated within the goal of the Urban Agenda, created by the NPS to focus on providing opportunities for the many diverse communities in urban centers and “nurture a Culture of Collaboration” (NPS, 2017). Finally, this work aims to further the goal of individuals of all cultures, races, and ethnicities to feeling comfortable, accepted, and represented in NCA units.


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