Steve Wolter is the Director of the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University and an Assistant Professor (p/t) in the School of Public Health.
Wolter leads the award-winning Eppley Institute and National Center on Accessibility, ProValensLearning, the Great Lakes Park Training Institute, the World Parks Academy, Playground Maintenance Technicians Training, LEAP LMS, and Eppley’s research, consulting, and planning services. His focus is on the advancement of the park, recreation, and public land profession and improving the services provided to the public and communities. Since his start as Executive Director of Eppley in 2001, Wolter has helped develop the Eppley Institute’s capacity to serve agencies, professionals and communities in parks, recreation, and public lands management through:
- Publication of over 300 online courses and webinars;
- Development and delivery of dozens of professional certificate programs;
- Development of over 100 agency comprehensive park and recreation plans and other technical reports;
- Facilitation of thousands of public engagement and participation meetings; and
- Delivery of professional development training to tens of thousands of learners annually.
Wolter holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Administration and Studies from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a Master’s of Science in Park and Recreation Administration from Indiana University.
The focus of my research program is action-based research that examines the most pressing societal issues related to public parks, outdoor recreation and public lands including nature and health, developing effective organizations, leadership, governance, and impacts to community health, quality of life, sense of community, and the economy. My overarching goal is to better understand what critical knowledge that might be ‘sticky’ to a person, agency, region, or nation can be generalized for greater reach, analyzing that knowledge for application and dissemination to broader audiences including the public. Climate change, economic impact, urbanization, housing, equity, and other societal challenges facing parks and public lands are immense. The driving goal of my research is to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the increasingly complex and interconnected nature of parks, health, recreation, public lands, and protected areas.
- Competencies for professional credentialling
- Trails and outdoor nature-based areas impact on health
- Accessibility best practices for outdoor and related recreation services
- Impacts of overuse on public lands, parks, and trails
- Chomistek, A., Jamieson, L., Oghenekaro, O., Piatt, J., & Wolter, S. (2018). PlayCore and Eppley Institute pilot study [press release]. https://eppley.org/news-2/playcore-and-eppley-institute-pilot-study/
- Wolter, S., Ramos, W., Elliott, L., & Smiley, A. (2019, September). Investigating the health benefits of trail use; a perspective from park practitioners. Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in Public Health, 3, pp. 97-112. https://doi.org/10.2979/rptph.3.1.07
- Wolter, S., Depper, G., & McCormick, C. (2019). Montgomery County Parks training program analysis. Indiana University, Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.
- Smiley, A., Ramos, W., Elliot, L., & Wolter, S. (2020). Association between trail use and self-rated wellness and health. BMC Public Health, 20(128). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8273-0
- Fladager, D., McCormick, C., Tessneer, S., Wiltz, L., & Wolter, S. (2020). Managing wildlands and wild spaces certificate. Indiana University, Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.
Awards and Honors
- Fellow for significant professionals and contributors to the field of park and recreation administration, American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration.
- Richard Lawson Award for outstanding and continuing contributions to the development of the profession, Great Lakes Park Training Institute
- Outstanding Contributions Award for the Facility Manager Leaders Program, National Park Service.
- Excellence in Partnership Award for outstanding support, National Park Service
- Crystal Owl Award for excellence in training, National Park Service