Monthly Archives: August 2014

NAI Puerto Rico 2015: Update!

by Eliezer Nieves Rodriguez

We are working hard to be visited by performers of the entire southeastern region of United States and Latin America. Puerto Rico 2015 will be an opportunity to strengthen ties of friendship and to learn about new projects, skills and techniques in the field of interpretation of our nature. Soon we will be presenting the preliminary program, and most importantly will be able to choose between several field Trips before, during and after the conference.

So plan to arrive a few days early or stay a few days later for a professional development in a Caribbean style. In Puerto Rico the US Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, The Natural History Society of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources among other groups, will welcome you to this meeting of Friendship, Nature and Interpretation.

Several groups are working on the preparation of a series of visits to our natural areas where the best interpretation practiced using a single language, to inspire future generations to preserve what ours by Nature.

View a trailer for the “Insider’s Guide to Puerto Rico,” or these other enticing videos:

120 Seconds in Puerto Rico from Play Creative on Vimeo


Categories: Jobs / Professional Development | 2 Comments

Interpreting Dead Snakes

“Murder is the case that they gave me” –Snoop Doggy Dog

I work at a zoo for non-releasable native wildlife. People regularly bring in animals to be identified. Some folks are curious; many are afraid. “Can it hurt me or my loved ones?” Then, often, “I killed it just in case.”

Who else has visitors that routinely degrade the resource and then ask to learn more about it?

Snakes are the most common victim and the vast majority of decapitated serpents we see are non-venomous. The old adage “the only good snake is a dead snake” is only true if you appreciate population explosions of rodents, insects, etc. And, ironically, killing non-venomous snakes opens up habitat and increases the likelihood of venomous snakes moving in.

While I identify the pest control specialist they just destroyed, people are often very receptive to the idea of leaving other snakes alone to do their ecological jobs so it is a happy ending (for future snakes anyway) but presents an interesting juxtaposition.

I am curious what instances like this other interpreters encounter and how you address these. Please share!

P.S. The Snoop Dogg quote is a bit of a stretch, I know, but I couldn’t resist!

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Lead the way for NAI and Region 3

NIW_2013_boothI have had the honor to be the Region 3 Director for almost 2 years and in this time I have met great people and tried to make NAI and Region 3 a better organization. Just like we do when we interpret nature  and we ask our visitors to leave habitats in better shape than they were when we started. 

I have also learned a few things about non-profits and member-based organization. One of the best things that have happened to me was to be nominated and elected to the Board of Directors. I want to help and empower other interpreters in any possible way to further their careers on the field of interpretation. 

This is not a one-man’s job and elections are coming up in November, if you would like to help interpreters across the Region please contact our elections chair and run for the positions that we have up for election this year. 

Having fresh ideas and new perspectives on the table is the only way to keep our professional organization relevant. if you have any ideas or suggestions about improving services from NAI please let me know. 

Have a fantastic week, 

Jose “Pepe” Chavez

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The Dog Days of Summer

Summer is a time for slowing down. Enjoying a cold glass of lemonade a bit slower than usual. Savoring fresh, local produce from the farmer’s market a little bit longer. Taking the time to delve into a novel beside the pool. And taking man’s (or woman’s) best friend for a leisurely stroll through winding trails in the shade.

As many take to the trails with Fido, I’d like to think that each and every one of those trail hikers is a responsible pet owner. But sadly, it turns out that is not the case. Here at our nature preserve, we installed ‘Mutt Mitt’ bags and trash cans throughout the area in hopes that our visitors would pick up after their four-legged friend. Turns out they are using them! But it seems that more often than not, these little bundles end up everywhere except the trash can.

Can any other interpreter’s out there identify with this or a similar visitor behavior problem? I think so! How many times do we find visitors violating park regulations or acting without the best interest of the nature preserve in mind? How do we appropriately discourage behavior like this in a respectful way to the visitor? By interpretation of course!

First, identify the problem. In our case, people were using the bags but dumping them off in a few select areas around the preserve. We decided to target our efforts around these dumping grounds.

Come up with a theme. We could go on all day preaching about water quality, health issues, etc. But when it came down to it, the theme that most people would identify with was ‘home.’No one likes dog poop in their home. Not even dogs.  Our sign has a picture of our box turtle with the caption:  I like a clean home, don’t you?

Identify your method. We came up with some signage to represent our theme and educate visitors on where to properly dispose of their pet waste. We also began offering ‘Hiking with Hounds’ programs to not only convey the rules and regulations of the preserve, but to also show visitors with dogs how to truly enjoy their hiking experience together. By inspiring them to take ownership and see the preserve as a home to a variety of living things, we began to see few bags littering the preserve.

Make it fun. Think of your effort to change a behavior as a way to not only educate, but to inspire and motivate someone to care about the resource.

Sprinkle in a few facts that relate back to your theme. We focused on food and water facts to relate back to the theme of ‘home.’  We used these facts from the perspective of the box turtle: Box turtles, like me, search the forest floor for berries, insects, and mushrooms to eat. I like to live in one area rather than travel too far, which means that I need to have plenty of food and fresh, clean water available. Pet waste doesn’t help plants grow and actually can be very harmful to me. Please help me keep my home healthy and clean by disposing of pet waste.

Encouraging respectful and wise-use of our natural landscape is at the heart of everything we do in the field of interpretation. Inspiring visitors to feel a connection between themselves and their surroundings can bring about a change in behavior that can impact future generations in a positive way.



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