A Brief History of the Denali Education Center
Denali Education Center, formerly Denali Foundation, was established in 1989 by the Denali Park Concessionaire and Denali National Park and Preserve Superintendent. These two were inspired to found a nonprofit that would serve as a research facility for biologists studying Denali’s unique ecosystem and would encourage them to share their expertise with other professionals, park visitors, and the local community. This vision helped fill the communication gap between biologists, resource managers, and the public. In November 1989, the Denali Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Throughout the 1990s, the Denali Foundation offered educational travel programs for visitors to Denali in partnership with Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). These programs brought people from all over the country to Denali National Park for six nights to study wildlife, natural history, and the intricate balance between preservation and use. This week-long intensive study in Denali was (and remains) an incredibly unique experience in a tourist area where most visitors stay only one or two nights. The program created ambassadors for Denali. As the need for education about wilderness and protected places became apparent, the Denali Foundation adopted it as the focus of the organization.
Today we serve our original purpose and an expanded education-centered mission. In 2007, we changed our name to the Denali Education Center and our mission became to foster appreciation and understanding of Denali through inspiring and informative programs. 2014 will be our 25th season offering Road Scholar programs. Over the last 16 years we have grown and diversified our program offerings to include summer camp programs for local youth and at-risk and developmentally challenged children, naturalist-led day programs for park visitors, and lectures, concerts, and workshops for the community. We continue to support park science through the Discover Denali Research Fellowship which funds studies of interest to park managers.