Frederick Law Olmsted and his son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., played a significant role in establishing and creating our country’s national parks. Through a lively array of panel discussions, this conference will explore the Olmsted conservation legacy and historic and current challenges to the public land ideal, including displacement, exclusion, public funding and climate change. The conference takes its cue from The Olmsteds and the National Park Service, a Historic Resource Study released by the NPS in 2020. 

Approx.  9:10 am 

Welcoming remarks 

Dede Petri, President & CEO, National Association for Olmsted Parks

James Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum, Architect of the Capitol’s Office

Kym Hall, Director, National Capitol Region, National Park Service

9:30- 10:30 am

Session One: Olmsted Senior, the Conservation Movement, and the National Parks Idea

Dennis Drabelle. Moderator. Drabelle is author of The Power of Scenery, about Olmsted’s fight for the Niagara Reservation and the development of the national parks.   He has written a number of other books including Mile-High Fever.

Jason Newman. Newman is Superintendent, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.  The FLONHS commissioned The Olmsteds and the National Park Service in 2020.  Newman outlines the history of the study that gave birth to Olmsted and Yosemite

Rolf Diamant. Diamant is co-author of Olmsted and Yosemite, which explores Olmsted’s role in the establishment of conservation movement ideals in the United States. He is a former superintendent of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

Q&A moderated by Dennis Drabelle. 

10:30– 10:45 am

Coffee Break 

10:45– 12:00 pm

Session Two: Olmsted Junior, the Conservation Movement, and State and National Parks

Lauren Meier, ASLA. Moderator. Meier is a historian and landscape architect— with a specialty in historic preservation— an editor of the Master List of Design Projects of the Olmsted Firm, the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, and co-president of the Friends of Fairsted.  She will focus on the relationship of the Olmsted Firm to the development of the National Park Service.

Elizabeth Hope Cushing. Cushing is author of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr: Beauty, Efficiency and Economy, the first full-length biography of Olmsted Jr. with a focus on his conservation legacy.  She is also the author of Refined Simplicity: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr’s Plan for the White House Grounds, Every President Has Walked These Grounds, Journal of the White House Historical Association, Number 63.  

Sam Hodder. Hodder is President and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was a member of the Save the Redwoods League Council from 1926-1955.   

Q&A moderated by Lauren Meier. 

12:00– 1:15 pm
Session Three: The Conservation Movement Today:  Race, Class, Public Use, and Environmental Protection

Allegra “Happy” Haynes. Moderator. Haynes is Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation and a board member of the City Parks Alliance. 

Philip Burnham. Burnham is the author of Indian Country, God’s Country: Native Americans and National Parks. He has taught at the Rosebud Indian Reservation and George Mason University and holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico.

Priscilla Solis Ybarra. Ybarra is an Associate Professor, Department of English, University of North Texas. She teaches Chicanx literature and environmental humanities and is the author of Writing the Goodlife: Mexican American Literature and the Environment (2016) and co-editor of Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial (2019). She is currently writing a book titled In Light of Los Lunas: Mexican American Womanhood, Abolition, and Abundance; which is about the Mexican American legacy of Aldo and Estella Leopold, one of the leading families of US conservation.

Shelton A. Johnson. Johnson is a National Park ranger and educator, at Yosemite National Park, U.S. National Park Service. He is the author of Gloryland and was a consultant for the Ken Burns PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Q&A moderated by Happy Haynes. 

1:15 pm

Closing Remarks

Ian Cooke. Cooke is Assistant Director for Education and Outreach, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. 

Lunch in the CVC Cafe *not included

Tours of the U.S. Botanic Garden, Bartholdi Fountain and the U.S. Capitol Grounds