Our Mission Statement
Develop, improve, promote, and increase opportunities for the public by advancing education, experience, and enjoyment.
What is a Cooperating Association?
By Paul DoBell – Former Executive Director, PFMA
Often in a park area, you will find an educational, park-themed bookstore inhabiting a portion of the park’s visitor center, or located nearby. Park staff may even handle the sales of these materials as part of your experience within such a visitor center.
While such a bookstore may enhance the interpretive program in a park, it also falls outside of the National Park Service’s mission, duties, or visitor expectations – though the overlap of goals and the cooperative efforts tends to blur the distinction and provide an oftentimes seamless appearance. Working with the park, a cooperating association provides the educational materials for this enhanced opportunity.
Cooperating Associations and their operation within our national parks is congressionally approved. Each association is a non-profit, non-government corporation that is an independent entity separate from the park.
A Board of Directors oversees the operation and direction of an association and each Board Member serves voluntarily and without compensation.
While a cooperating association might call themselves a natural history association, a museum association, or some other variation, and may incorporate a part of the park’s name, they come in many forms and sizes, serving from a single park to perhaps many within an area or region.
The core functions of each may be similar but are dictated by their individual Articles of Incorporation, which are their original formation documents that spell out the association’s purpose and mission.
Being non-profit, the proceeds of an association’s sales are used to operate the cooperating association, purchase the materials for resale in the bookstores, to produce park-specific materials and publications, and to aid the National Park in serving the visiting public.
While some barely survive with the revenue generated from their educational material sales, others are fortunate and provide vast sums of assistance to their park, both in financial aid, interpretive assistance, educational assistance, program assistance, technical assistance, collection assistance, and research assistance.
Often their assistance goes without credit on displays, waysides, site bulletins, or other items that enhance a visitor’s enjoyment and understanding of the park.
The combined capabilities of a park and its cooperating association can dramatically increase the available material for the park’s visitors – adding to their experience.
Locally, the Petrified Forest Museum Association serves the Petrified Forest National Park and the surrounding area. In 1940, efforts were underway to form the Petrified Forest Museum Association and in February of 1941, the association was officially established and approved by the Secretary of the Department of Interior.
Its early development was stunted due to the entry of the United States into World War II. Following the war, PFMA began its growth, slowly at first, but with marked jumps in revenue along the way, primarily with the introduction of its own publications and its additional outlet in the Painted Desert Visitor Center.
Over the years, PFMA has provided needed supplies, materials, printing costs, postage, staffing assistance and costs, financial assistance to seed other associations, and support of local activities.
In 1965, PFMA was officially incorporated, submitting Articles of Incorporations for the association, using the associations’ duly appointed lawful agent, Edwin R. Powell.
In the late ’60s, both Walter S. Carpenter and Paul Barger were elected as members of the Board of Directors to fill vacant positions. Edwin R. Powell was elected to the Board in the ’70s and in the 80’s Barbara DeSpain and William Jeffers, Jr. were elected to the Board of Directors to fill vacancies.
Each has served selflessly and with a dedication to the Petrified Forest Museum Association and has been diverse vested members in the Holbrook area and community.
By the early ’70s, PFMA was one of sixty-one independent associations and was the seventh-largest, based on revenue – though it had donated the largest amount of aid to the National Park Service of any of the associations.
Today, annual revenues exceed $500,000 per year, with approximately $170,000 of direct annual aid are provided to the Petrified Forest National Park, in addition to indirect aid and support of park activities, programs, staffing, and printing of free bulletins and park newspapers for the park’s visitors.
PFMA has been a member of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce since 1960 and plays an active role in local chamber activities, as well as assisting with the operation of the visitor center in the Historic Holbrook Courthouse and providing input and assistance to the Navajo County Historical Society.
PFMA continues to seek out ways to strengthen the natural ties between the Petrified Forest and the community of Holbrook.