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General FAQ


What is NAI? Is Greenfire Creative part of NAI? What is interpretation?
What is interpretive writing? What is an interpretive guide? What is an interpretive host?



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 resource."

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 way—all 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 ship—in 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.

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