Gearing up for the NIW!

It is the unofficial end of summer–I’m exhausted from logging over 3,000 miles visiting various rural libraries as an outreach educator and I can’t wait to get my favorite restaurant cleared of the seemingly endless stream of tourists. What better way to get my groove back than from looking forward to the upcoming National Interpreter’s Workshop (NIW)?

I used to go, back in the days of travel money and staff enrichment–so many times that I have to look at my cheat sheet list of years gone and places visited. I enjoyed meeting new folks as well as friends I saw only at the NIW. I was a regular presenter with a loyal following. Sad to say, I haven’t been since the NIW was in Albuquerque!

I’m happy to report that I’m going this year—thanks to a generous scholarship from the Interpretive Naturalists section. The NIW will be in Hampton, VA, practically in my backyard, so it would be a crime not to make the effort. I’m even presenting!

Since it has been a while, I’ve started making a list of things to bring and stuff to be sure to do—if you are fortunate enough to go and haven’t been in a while or if this if your first time, I hope this list will help you, too!

Be prepared to schlep stuff home:  You are going to have lots of opportunities to collect lots of stuff—from the concurrent sessions, to the exhibitors, to field trip gift shops, to the silent and live auctions. Pack an empty bag or refill the space used to bring auction items (see below).

Showcase your site with auction items:  Both the silent and live auctions need items to sell to raise money for student scholarships. Why not bring items that reflect your site? You can even include entry passes or coupons for events or trips from your place.

Plan to be inspired by the keynote speakers:  Some are well known, some are local folks but all deserve your time and attention. I especially remember an a cappella version of Alaska’s state song that gave me chills!

Don’t forget the folks back home:  If your friend watched your dog, if your spouse soloed with your kids, if your coworkers are holding down the fort while you kick up your heels for the week, why not bring back some token of your esteem? Also remember the different departments within your organization. Could your exhibits staff use some ideas for a new exhibit? How about the gift shop—do they need a fresh line of trinkets to sell? Keep your eyes open for all such gifts and if you heeded the suggestion above, you will have room to bring your treasures home.

Choose concurrent sessions that are not in your job description:  If you are not a manager, take part in a session designed to help managers. If you not tech savvy, find a discussion on the latest app or electronics. If you are into natural history, choose a field trip that is more culturally based. It is never wrong to broaden your perspective!

Don’t blow off the Saturday concurrent sessions:  As a frequent Saturday speaker, we appreciate folks staying to the final bell of the NIW. Some of these late sessions are the best of the week with speakers who are at the top of their game. Besides it is always nice to end the NIW on a high note!

So here’s hoping I see you in November—much inspired and better rested! And if you can’t go this year, start looking for the next opportunity to go—the effort is well worth the work!



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