National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

IDP Newsletter -- April, 2014


Working in Isolation: Duplication and Disconnection 

or Innovation and Ingenuity?

Just like curling sweepers at the ready, how can management clear a path for the best ideas to reach their target? 
(Flickr: Wyoming_Jackrabbit / CC)


Did you know last year the National Park Service ranked 200th out of 300 agencies for the best places to work in the federal government? 

What causes our organization to rank so low? Data shows some of our dissatisfaction comes from working in isolation -- leading to duplication, disconnection, and feeling unappreciated.


In the last couple months, I've had a chance to discuss the employee viewpoint survey in a number of settings. The word that keeps arising for me is "alignment." Employees want more communication, input, and feedback from supervisors and leaders, mostly so they know they are on the right track. Everyone wants to know the work they do matters.


Innovation and ingenuity happen everywhere; isolated pockets of hard working interpreters breed new ideas. Our best efforts originate in the field, and management's job should be to illuminate and support ideas that move work forward. A number of efforts this spring do just that -- ask you what you need to do your best work. Add your voice by participating in:

  • The Interpretation and Education Training Needs Assessment survey, Get your own copy by emailing Gina Depper at Survey due April 22.
  • The Interpretation and Education Strategy for Relevance in our Second Century, go for more information to join the broadcast and strategy roll-out on April 17.

We're looking forward to talking more about how we can all better align.




Katie Bliss 

Training Manager for Interpretation and Education

Inside This Issue

Training Exchange

From the IDP



  • The Interpretive Facilitator's Toolkit webinar - As seasonal training times arrives, how will you help your front-line staff learn or evolve their skills for engaging 21st century audiences? This 90-minute webinar will introduce the Interpretive Facilitator's Toolkit - a resource and idea sharing center for interpreters who understand the importance of interpreting with visitors rather than for them. Register for the April 29session OR May 7 session.
  • By Educators, For Educators webinar series - an effort to build a more collaborative community for park educators that inspire and fosters open communication and exchange of ideas. The purpose of this forum is to establish an additional opportunity or "space" for educators to share and learn about relevant topics that directly impact youth and teacher engagement.
    • Developing Teacher Institutes - Monday, April 7, 2014. Register Here
    • What is the IDP? - Thursday, May 8, 2014. Register Here
    • Education 101 - June date TBD
    • Engaging Diverse Audiences - July date TBD
    • Integrating Common Core - Save the Date - Monday, August 11, 2014
  • Diginterp Indepth Webinar Series - This monthly webinar series investigates new and emerging interpretive theory and the digital world.  Check out the #diginterp Facebook community or the IDP Facebook page for monthly announcements. 

Face-to-Face Classroom Training:

  • Interpreting Critical Issues Using Civic Engagement & Facilitated Dialogue Techniques - This classroom course focuses on the front-line interpreter's role as a facilitator of dialogue and discussion, and a range of ways to incorporate these techniques into new and existing park programming.
  • Train-the-Trainer Facilitated Dialogue - September 16-19 - Look for a training announcement by July to register for this opportunity if you have participated in a previous 2-5 day course, Interpreting Critical Issues Using Civic Engagement and Facilitated Dialogue Techniques.
  • Living History - This in-person course will tackle the challenges and benefits of living history programs in interpretive landscapes. Participants will investigate the process of designing interpretive living history and costumed interpretive programs, focusing on making these programs vibrant, relevant, interactive and engaging for modern audiences. This training is geared to both permanent employees and interns/seasonals- July 2014 (dates to be announced)  
Virtual (Online) Classroom Courses:
  • Introduction to Audio Description - Partnership with Harpers Ferry Center - Save the date - Coming this July. This course prepares learners to audio describe videos that will be posted to the web. Audio description is a core component of accessibility for internal and external Park Service audiences. This course will help employees navigate accessibility guidelines & resources related to audio description as well as practice audio description principles.
  • Interpreting Climate Change Virtual Class - Save the date - July 22-25, 2014. This 4-day virtual learning experience will provide an overview of the practical knowledge and skills that will enable interpreters to develop effective, engaging climate change programming for both natural and cultural sites. See the announcement from January's class.
  • Curriculum Based Ed Virtual Course  - Save the date - August 5 - 8, 2014   This 4-day virtual learning experience for the park educator will examine the park service as an education institution and parks as places of learning through civic engagement and citizen stewardship; examine the importance of collaborating with partners and education institutions to expand programs; and examine leading-edge technologies.    
From Northeast Region - How to Play the Game
The interpretive team at Northeast Regional Office continue their successful series of webinars themed around "How to Play the Game: Working with, through, and for others" throughout 2014. Click here to learn more... 
  • Couldn't Have Done it Without You - Ways to Work With & Through Others
    May 6 & 8, 2014 
  • The New A, B, C's - Informal, Self-Directed, and Free-Choice Learning in NPS
    July 8 & 10, 2014 
  • The Art and Advantage of the Critique or, Beyond Positive Assessment
    Sept 9 & 11, 2014
Organization of Wildlife Planners
  • OWP will host its first on-line conference the week of April 7-11th. The theme of the conference is the Difference Between Customers and Citizens. Each day OWP will host a speaker who will make a 20-30 minute presentation and then there will be a moderated discussion with the presenter.  To Learn more, click here
From National Association for Interpretation
  • Opportunities to network and gain new ideas for education and interpretive programming in your local area. For more information on these localized training opportunities, check the NAI website.
The IDP's NEW Training Grants - Help Build the Catalog

  Education Training Grants

A pencil and paper on a green background.As the Interpretive Development Program (IDP) strives to offer learning opportunities that model 21st Century skills, there is a obvious need to expand and leverage our resources. The IDP Education Training grants will allow park educators to seek out their own training that has been defined by their Interpretive Development Plan. If selected, NPS employees will be given funds ($250.00) that will help reduce the cost in either face-to-face or distance learning. 

Digital Training Grants

A green computer and monitor.An IDP Digital Training grant allows a park interpreter to seek out training which may help them navigate the world of digital interpretation more effectively. If selected, NPS employees will be given funds (up to $250.00) that will help reduce the cost of registering for the training.

Training submitted through the program does not *need* to cost money.  You may submit free training opportunities through this form as well, if you would like to take and review those offerings.  Together, we can create a vibrant training catalog for our peers.

WIN AN AWARD for contributing a new Training Example

We need videos of YOUR fantastic interpretive programs, so get out there with those video cameras! If your program meets the criteria and is selected as an example for training other interpreters, YOU will receive a $250.00 training grant!


We are especially looking for products that illustrate the effective use of audience-centered techniques (such as dialog, resource immersion, directed experiences, or other types of facilitated engagement and audience co-creation strategies) and programs that focus on audience relevance. Read more...

I interpret with my AUDIENCE.
 I believe in MEANINGS.
 I foster DIVERSITY.
Sound like you? Join the IDP community for thought-provoking news, conversations, and training about relevancy and meaning making in parks.