Monthly Archives: November 2016

Giving Thanks

It may be cliché to write an article about being thankful at Thanksgiving, but I wanted to write about showing gratitude and thankfulness in our facilities and our jobs. This post will review a few ways my coworkers and I share thanks.

 Many of us don’t have a plethora of staff to cover everything we do. We could not have the same reach into our community without volunteers. Do you remember to say thank you to your volunteers? It is important for them to hear that every time they sign up to help. Although people don’t volunteer for the accolades, it is greatly appreciated when you recognize them formally. Our center hosts a volunteer appreciation dinner each year. The staff have a chili cook off where each staff member cooks chili and volunteers bring a dessert to share. It costs a lot less than a catered event and by making it a competition, the staff want to participate to win the title of “Best Chili.” After dinner, we recognize all volunteers and their service to the center. They are able to receive a shirt, mug, water bottle or other gift for the number of hours served.


Volunteers at “Volunteers are Treasured” Pirate Themed Appreciation event.


 It is also important to recognize donors. Whether it is a monetary donation or books for a reading corner, send a thank you note. Include in your note how the gift will be used, if it helps to meet a goal and, if you are non-profit, include the information about your 503-C status. Include a link to your website or other social media outlets so they can keep up to date about what is happening around your center.

 Thank your visitors. They choose to spend time with you and your facility so show appreciation by a simple “thanks for coming!” They will feel that you appreciate their choice to visit and they will want to return again soon. 

 Don’t forget to thank your coworkers, too. It takes a team to pull off everything from day to day operations to large events. If you’re in charge of the event or someone takes time to help you clean up after a birthday party, show your appreciation.

 Whether you have to work this holiday or not, take time to think of what you are thankful for in life and at work. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Creating memories through stories

tildenI am not a great story teller but I sure love listening to friends recall their memories through stories.

Last week and the NAI National Conference in Corpus Christi I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Most conversations were a lot shorter than I wish I had time for. We hugged, laughed, and recalled a few memories, some were a couple of years old, some are over a decade old.

Walt Dabney was the keynote speaker on Thursday, he worked for the National Park Service when at age 23 was assigned as Freeman Tilden’s assistant. Their assignment was to meet with stakeholders to identify the role for the NPS to play through its interpretive programs. They traveled over 50,000 miles across the country holding meetings and became good friends.

If you have ever been on a road trip you will get to know your traveling friends very well. Walt shared great stories about two co-workers who developed a life-long friendship and created wonderful memories.

Whenever you have the opportunity, create your own memories, and tell your stories. As interpreters this is how we connect with our audience.

As outgoing Director of the Sunny Southeast I have had the pleasure to meet new people and great friends who will be in my stories for a very long time.


Categories: General, Interpretation tools | Leave a comment

Interpreting with Trash

There is no better way to interpret than with a big hunk of trash. Am I right? I’ll tell you why. Interpretation works best when it is eye-catching, provocative, and makes a statement. Otherwise, who pays attention? In order to portray your message effectively, you need to capture your audience’s attention.

Next March, the South Carolina Aquarium is hosting a Plastic Symposium with a Youth Summit portion. Two of our High School Interns from last summer are returning as mentors with more of a leadership role at the Aquarium. They have been tasked with collecting plastic from the beaches surrounding the Aquarium and making a large art piece out of the trash. By building a giant structure out of plastic that has been picked up from around the environment, it really puts into perspective the amount of trash that is out there.

The saying one person’s trash is another person’s treasure is really true. This project is inspiring the interns to make something out of nothing, to get trash out of the environment, and to educate the public on the plastic epidemic that is happening in our world right now. Trash talks!

Image result for art with trash

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Award nominations and scholarship application now available!

Submitted by Jessica Goodrich Watts, Scholarship Chair:

It’s time to start getting ready for a great 2017 Regional Conference in Shepherdsville, Kentucky this March – scholarship applications and award nominations are now open! The deadline for both items is November 30, so don’t delay – get yours in quickly.

Scholarships to attend “Rooted In the Land,” March 7-10, 2017, Shepherdsville, KY

The Sunny Southeast region is lucky to be able to award three scholarships to attend the conference this year. To apply:

  • Download the application form
  • Fill out the form
  • Send the form, along with a letter of support, personal statement interpreting yourself and why you need the scholarship, and a newsletter article or blog post, to on or before November 30.

Nominate a friend or colleague for a regional award!

Any member of NAI can nominate a member of the Sunny Southeast Region. The Region has 3 award categories by which to recognize its members: Outstanding Interpreter, Outstanding New Interpreter, and Outstanding Service to the Sunny Southeast Region. Please read the descriptions carefully, as they have recently been updated. One important change to note is that “Outstanding New Interpreter” may now include anyone with 3 years or less in the field (previously it was 2 years or less).

To nominate someone for an award:

  • Download the descriptions and instruction form
  • Be sure to follow the guidelines for what to include in your nomination (these are different for each award), including observing page limits.
  • Send your nomination as a single file to on or before November 30.

Thanks – we can’t wait to see you in Kentucky!

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