Monthly Archives: April 2012

CITing in Charlotte, NC

Picutre it–24 interpreters of varying ages, backgrounds, regions, and career paths coming together for a Certified Interpreter Trainer class in OUR REGION! And 16 of them are from OUR REGION! Talk about a marvelous meeting of the minds! But I digress. I went for selfish reasons–I wanted to get my lapsed CIT reactivated and since the location was just down the street (hey, anything within 6 hours of the Outer Banks can be considered “just down the street”), I jumped at the chance to meet these engaging folks at Reedy Creek Nature Center and “get ‘er done,” as they say in these parts!

So since I’ve been gone for over a week and the work has piled up, let me be brief:

1.  If you have let your CIT lapse, there is hope–you can audit the class and get back on board with the program.  Contact Carrie Miller for more info.

2. There are a bunch of newly hatched CITs in our region–if you want to have your folks trained, be sure to check out the ever-expanding list of Region 3 CITs on the NAI website.

3.  If you ever thought about getting your CIT credentials, I would encourage you to do so–the training is well planned and executed, the participants are fun and full of great insights, and the break from the everyday is always appreciated. We had such a great turnout, I bet we could convince Lisa and Tim to come back to the Sunny Southeast sooner, rather than later!

CIT participants at Reedy Creek Nature Center








Categories: General, Interpretation tools, Jobs / Professional Development | 2 Comments

Interpreting the Gift Shop

Most of our sites have a gift shop attached to them. It might be a rack of postcards, books, and knick-knacks, or it could be stocked with local crafts, foodstuffs, and native plants. Whatever we sell, though, let’s remember that first and foremost, we are interpreters, and interpreting our giftshop is just as important as interpreting our resource.

Consider a chocolate bar. Chocolate, of course, comes from the fruit of the cocoa plant, grown in the tropical parts of the world. The cocoa pods are allowed to mature and are taken to a plant for processing. Most of the time, the chocolate-making process (unfortunately) takes place far from the cocoa plantation, and the finished product is shipped to the consumer.


Cocoa pods in Madagascar await processing at one of Africa's only chocolate factories. Photo: Madecasse

Telling the story of the chocolate bar makes it a much more meaningful purchase than simply a candy bar in a wrapper. Knowing even more, such as the method of production (shade-grown? organic? single-origin?) and the labour practices of the company (fair trade? co-op?), can raise the price significantly and turn a product into a premium item.

Think about Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s. Your local grocery co-op. Earth Fare. All of these places charge higher prices because consumers are willing to pay a higher price for what is perceived to be a ‘better’ or ‘more responsible’ product, even if the chocolate at Sav-A-Lot is produced the same way. All of these stores interpret their goods. They connect their goods to consumers, with tangibles (tasty! organic!) and intangibles (fair trade! slave-free!). Next time you set out stock in your gift shop, remember that interpretation doesn’t have to stop at the door.

Interpretation. It sells.

Categories: Interpretation tools | Leave a comment

The best tool of an interpreter – Vacations!!

Ok, I was trying to figure out some great insight that I could give my fellow interpreters.  Looking for some

Unique exhibit case

Though I was already excited by the fact that I was in San Diego, and IN the HMS Surprise, I was completely fascinated by this great use of the old steamer trunk as an exhibit case!

inspiration, or perhaps a bit of procrastination thrown in, I of course found myself on Facebook looking at some of my old photos.  Vacation trips specifically.

Ah – ha!

Maybe I am just ready for my next vacation.  But I realized when I am on vacation, I am always looking very closely at everything, and joke with my vacation partners that I am a bad tourist.  But really deep down, I am just looking at and trying to absorb the foundation of the program or exhibit, and thinking of how I can apply it to my site when I get back.

So, I’m not really saying just jump in there and put in for vacation next week, and go somewhere extravagant….but if you have the time and funding, by all means!

What I am recommending is a bit of a vacation in your own backyard.  Have you visited all of the local nature and cultural centers in your immediate area, nearby city or county?  Chances are there is one or two in your phone book that you haven’t visited, or at least not in a long, long time.  Take some time, step away from your own site.  On your next day off take a trip to one of these sites.

I will admit, I was only stopping at this visitor center near Asheville to use the bathroom after spending a while driving on the Blueridge Parkway. But this was a little bit of really cool exhibitry that I am tucking away. It was not only technology, but it was very, very easy to use, and not intimidating to anyone that encountered it. The capture rate was impressive too. I watched this couple for nearly 10 minutes! Yes, nearly 10 minutes at one small portion of the entire exhibit! Not only was the technology interesting, there was information that was being read and (hopefully) retained!

I know for myself, when I do this I get a great sense of rejuvenation.  It gives me some perspective.  And if you are lucky some great inspiration for a new exhibit, program or tour.  If you are unlucky in your trip, you may at least learn something about what doesn’t work well.Either way, the best thing is it will be a bit of further education for you in the world of interpretation!


Categories: General, Interpretation tools, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Job Hunt Series-Finding the Perfect Job

Hello NAI Region 3 members!  I’m excited to be the first contributor for our new blog.  Today’s topic stems from my own experience on the job search as well as nuggets of knowledge I have picked up along the way from my fellow job seekers.  Feel free to share your own experiences and ask questions!

The internet is by far the best tool for locating job postings and, in my experience, looking in some rather non-traditional places has served me well.  Here’s a list of my favorite job websites:

Stay tuned!  In the next job post, I’ll cover tips and secrets of writing a killer cover letter and formatting techniques for resumes!


Categories: Jobs / Professional Development | 2 Comments

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