27 Jun Future of Interpretation
Though I have done interpretive programs in the past and have received training on interpretation, this week’s 3-day long training has been different and brought new topics to light. During the training we learned some of the essentials necessary for putting on a great program. We spoke to several rangers from different departments to learn more about the unique aspects and ecology of the Santa Monica Mountains. On top of learning more about the resources and wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains, we also learned about different strategies to engage the public. In an effort to connect more with park users, the NPS is leaning away from the more teacher-led programs to something where the participants play a bit more of a role in the program. This takes shape in many forms whether it is having people discuss with each other, share stories, or even co-creating an exhibit or artwork. We hope that with these types of programs, people will feel more of a personal connection towards the environment and in turn want to do more to be environmental stewards.Though anyone can mention the importance of addressing personal bias in interpretive programs, it was something else to walk through how you can actually do that with a diverse group of people. I was in a room full of other interns, (many of which I was meeting for the first time), rangers, and volunteers and we were able to discuss different parts of our identities. Even in the small room we all had so many unique experiences and perspectives that it further highlighted how important and necessary it is to make diverse and engaging programs. Now equipped with the knowledge of what makes Santa Monica/Los Angeles special, and the tools to understand and share the unique stories and experiences of the park users, I think we can get some really meaningful and impactful programs that will relate to a wider spectrum of people. Most importantly what I got out of this training, and what I continue to get out of this internship, is motivation and inspiration to keep learning and move forward in my career path.