What is NAI?
NAI, the National Association for Interpretation, was formed in 1988 from
two existing organizations: the Association of Interpretive Naturalists
and the Western Interpreters Association. Both of these groups were created
in the 1950s to provide training and networking opportunities for interpreters
of natural and cultural history in nonformal settings (parks, zoos, nature
centers, museums, and aquariums). For over thirty years, these two organizations
operated as two separate professional organizations with offices in Maryland
and California. Since merging in 1988, NAI has worked to meet the needs
of interpretation professionals in North America and worldwide. Its certification
program is one of many services designed to further the work of the profession.
More information about NAI is available on its website, http://www.interpnet.com.
Is Greenfire Creative part of NAI?
No. We're in the same town as NAI, but we're not the same company. Greenfire
Creative, LLC, is a small, woman-owned business founded in 2001. Owner
Judy Fort Brenneman is an active member of NAI and is certified through
NAI as an Interpretive Trainer, sanctioned to train and certify interpretive
guides and hosts through the NAI Certified Interpretive Guide and Certified
Interpretive Host programs.
What is interpretation?
Interpretation is NOT translating from one language to another.
It's also NOT performance art or avant-garde dance or stuff like that
(though sometimes these things may be part of an interpretive program).
So, what IS interpretation?
The National Association for Interpretation defines interpretation as
"a communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections
between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the
Museum exhibits, slide and video programs at national parks, the guided
tour at the zoo, the speaker on the cruise ship or at the historic reenactment,
campfire chats, brochures, points-of-interest signs along the wayall
these and more are part of interpretation.
Good interpretation connects people to what's important about a place,
culture, time, and/or resource. Great interpretation does more than list
facts - it inspires and challenges people. It can change the way we see
the world and ourselves. It has the potential to change the world.
Bad interpretation can make your eyes glaze over and your head hurt.
It also wastes time, money, and effort.
What is interpretive writing?
Interpretive writing is the text that accompanies museum exhibits, the
script for the slide show or video in the visitors' center, the presentation
given by the living history folks, the text on the signs along a nature
walk. It's part of telling the stories of people, place, culture, cultural
and natural resources, and more, whether those stories appear on the signs
at the side of the road, in a nature center, around a campfire, on a cruise
ship, or during a wilderness adventure.
What is an interpretive guide?
Interpretive guides include folks who present formal interpretive programs
(for example, in an amphitheater or around a campfire), lead museum tours,
answer questions at the information desk, guide adventurers down a river,
help vacationers spot wildlife from the deck of a cruise shipin short,
anyone who is actively involved in engaging visitors and helping them
understand the important stories and messages of a place and its people.
Interpretive guides may be permanent, full-time employees; part-time or
seasonal employees; interns; or volunteers.
What is an interpretive host?
Interpretive hosts are people (staff, employees, volunteers) who have
customer or visitor contact at a site and who are not responsible for
formal interpretive programs. Interpretive hosts include gift shop employees,
maintenance workers, law enforcement officers, convention and visitors
bureau volunteers, campground hosts, greeters, ticket collectors, and
others who come into regular contact with visitors. Interpretive hosts
often have the opportunity to enhance a visitor's experience by providing
informal interpretation side-by-side with their usual duties.