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Former National Park Service directors to speak in Salt Lake City

Their talk will explore the national parks' role in the connection between nature and human health.

On March 16, two former directors of the National Park Service will speak at the Salt Lake City Library auditorium about links between nature and health, and the role of our national parks in connecting people to nature. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Register to attend the event here.

The talk is sponsored by Nature and Human Health-Utah (NHH-UT), a research/practice collaborative group comprised of scholars, educators, practitioners and community members, including U professors Dorothy Schmalz, interim chair of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in the College of Health, Nalini Nadkarni, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Tim Brown, president and CEO of Tracy Aviary. Their goals are to raise awareness of the value of nature for human health and well-being and to incorporate more nature into our lives.

Speaking at the national parks event will be Fran Mainella and Jon Jarvis.

Mainella was the 16th director of the National Park Service and the first woman to hold the position. She served under former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, and is now a visiting scholar at Clemson University as well as co-chair of the U.S. Play Coalition.

Jarvis was the 18th director of the National Park Service from 2009 to 2017 under former President Barack Obama. While director, he started the Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative. He is now the executive director of the Institute for Parks, People, and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley.

A growing body of research links nature exposure to positive physical, emotional and mental health. However, myriad questions remain about how and why nature yields these benefits. Many of these research questions require interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral perspectives that bridge research and practice and that benefit from collaborations across many ways of knowing. Experts in parks, recreation and tourism, biology, environmental studies, urban planning and sociology, among others, will best position research teams to address the complex questions surrounding nature and human health. Inspired by innovative research and projects produced by the similar Nature and Health Program at the University of Washington, NHH-UT provides an arena in which experts from many societal sectors can collaborate.

With its urban and wilderness parks and monuments, natural resources and recreational opportunities, Utah is uniquely positioned to foster this research collaboration. The University of Utah, along with partners across the state, has the expertise and resources to answer compelling questions about the nature and human health link, improve access to nature for all populations and increase awareness of the important role nature plays in human health and well-being.

Email NHH-UT to be added to their listserv.