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K-State Today

April 25, 2024

Kissinger Award advances innovative partnership between LARCP and National Park Service

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Leslie Wren, assistant professor in the landscape architecture and regional & community planning department, or LARCP, in the K-State College of Architecture, Planning & Design, was awarded the Susan and Paul Kissinger Award designed to bridge the gap between professional industry and the learning environment. 

This award supports the launch of the department's new cooperative agreement with the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, or RTCA, effective Aug. 1, 2023.

The program extends the professional planning, design and technical expertise of the National Park Service to communities across the U.S. implementing conservation and outdoor recreation projects, including parks development, habitat restoration and recreational programs. Its cooperative agreement with LARCP provides financial support for student and faculty time, travel, and other costs associated with their work on real-world RTCA projects in the Midwest Region. This grant is renewable and increasable, depending on RTCA's need for design and planning services, and marks a major milestone in LARCP's capacity to offer public practice opportunities and connections to students and faculty.

The Kissinger Award funded a launch event in January anchored around an all-department charrette on mission-informed design and planning solutions for better connecting the NPS' Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and adjacent Strong City. 

Additionally, the Kissinger Award supported a field trip Wren and her Socio-ecological Systems studio took to Ozark National Scenic Riverways in April. This trip, which culminated with the Great Solar Eclipse of 2024, offered the class the opportunity to experience an exquisite National Park Service unit as tourists, designers and support staff. 

"LARCP is very excited to be official collaborators with the RTCA and the National Park Service," said Wren. "We share core values, a commitment to community engagement, and the desire to leverage planning and landscape architecture expertise to make the world a better place."