Light Up People’s Brains with Music

  When I was in the third grade, Lloyd Higgerson, the music teacher, came to our class and introduced the opportunity to be in the band. I wanted to play trumpet and my parents bought the instrument and encouraged me to practice. And practice. And practice some more. It was lots more pressure than IContinue reading “Light Up People’s Brains with Music”

The Interpretive Farm, Oz Style

  We were recently driving south from Melbourne to Phillip Island in Australia to watch the amazing emergence of 16,000 little penguins from the ocean at dusk. Along the highway we spotted a series of signs much like the old Burma Shave signs in the U.S., which were sequences of messages that pique your interest.Continue reading “The Interpretive Farm, Oz Style”

Matching Mission and Message Zooperbly

We recently enjoyed training twenty-eight interpretive professionals from Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania in a day-long interpretive planning workshop at the Melbourne Zoo. Zoo personnel kindly invited us to explore the Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary, two of the three Victoria Zoos, in our remaining days in the Melbourne area and we took themContinue reading “Matching Mission and Message Zooperbly”

Six ways to Put Interpretation On Your Manager’s Agenda

I was at the National Park Service training facilities in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, when Mike Watson (then superintendent) said to me, “Interpretation is management.” I had heard our profession described as a management tool for decades, but if it’s only a tool, it’s one of those used too infrequently. I tend to agree withContinue reading “Six ways to Put Interpretation On Your Manager’s Agenda”

8 Key Ways to Keep Valued Employees

We create a culture at work made up of behavioral norms. One of the most important roles of a manager or director is setting values for that culture. Ideally, the corporate culture promotes a feeling of comfort and support that keeps employees motivated and productive. Here are eight key ideas to consider if you wantContinue reading “8 Key Ways to Keep Valued Employees”

A Flipchart Survey

This very simple survey method at a special event caught my eye last year at the Larimer County Farmers’ Market in Fort Collins, Colorado, where we live. When I managed a nature center for thirteen years in Pueblo, special events were the lifeblood of our fundraising and they attracted thousands of people to our site.Continue reading “A Flipchart Survey”

How Does Your Program Smell?

  Does your natural or cultural site or facilities have a “signature” odor? That may be a strange question but it has more to do with interpretation than you may think.     I was reminded of the power of the Proust Effect when I visited the Science Teacher website that suggested going to aContinue reading “How Does Your Program Smell?”

Finding The Sweet Spot

At some heritage sites interpretation is entertainment, doing little more than passing time for visitors or delivering information that will not be remembered. Helping people connect emotionally and intellectually with complex stories is a challenge. Experiences must be planned with specific objectives in mind.   Much of what we do in planning natural and culturalContinue reading “Finding The Sweet Spot”

Five Ways to Better Understand Your Audience

    I will never forget my days running a state park visitor center when we counted people going through the building. These daily numbers went into a report we submitted to the state office annually. We detected the presence and number of our visitors and that was about it. Most of us do notContinue reading “Five Ways to Better Understand Your Audience”

When the Wow Trumps the Message

Have you ever spent an hour with mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes following trails once traveled by Dian Fossey? Have you had your photo taken with baby pandas in a Sichuan panda reserve where George Schaller once studied these amazing animals? Did you climb out of your panga in the Galapagos to walk inContinue reading “When the Wow Trumps the Message”