Reflections on the 2017 Regional Workshop: Rooted in the Land

by Wren Smith, Whitney Wurzel, and Dan Pascucci, Bernheim Education Team

What a week it was! Thanks to all who participated in the 2017 NAI Sunny Southeast Regional Workshop: Rooted in the Land. Hosted by Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s education team, with support from fellow interpreters near and far, the workshop provided a great opportunity to explore our shared network of roots in the land while strengthening our interpretive skills.

Our planning committee owes much to all who stepped up in support of this effort. Some of you presented sessions, others helped organize the silent and live auctions. Some of you helped make the field trips run smoothly, and others of you added helpful insights, good humor, and a willingness to lend a hand throughout the workshop. We are grateful for the encouragement and guidance we received along the way.

Keynote speaker, Martha Barnette, was a highlight. The Louisville native, who now calls San Diego home, is a noted linguist and host of the NPR show, A Way with Words. Her enthusiastic discussion of words and their meanings and origins encouraged interpreters to reconsider the power of language and how to hone it as a tool in making positive changes. Martha also shared a moving story about her beloved linguist professor, reminding us that when we pay it forward by mentoring and sharing with others we produce fruit and the journey continues as new roots sprout and spread. In addition to the powerful address, Martha provided a fun-filled session on Improv for Interpreters. We all learned new ways to loosen up before a presentation, and how to tap into our more creative and spontaneous selves.

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We were delighted with the range of workshop sessions that were offered. They ranged in topic from learning additional methods for interpretation (like using sign language, mastering Facebook, interpretation from an invertebrate’s perspective, interpretation for people with developmental disabilities) and on many more topics, from birds and trees to climate change.

Participants were also able to experience the beauty of Kentucky, through tours in Bourbon Country, a visit to Mammoth Cave, Lincoln Birth Place National Historic Site, Shaker Village and more. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to show off Bernheim, Bullitt County, and Kentucky for these enthusiastic workshop attendees. It was deeply nourishing to share this time together, but it was also a blast!

A great time was had by all who attended the final evening’s Sunny Southeast Awards Banquet and Auction. After honoring some of the top interpreters in the region, folks came together to raise an impressive $3,209 for the scholarship fund through live and silent auctions. The evening was capped off with dancing, music, and new friends coming together to network, socialize, and celebrate a successful workshop and a wonderful week.

If you were unable to attend this year, mark your calendar for the 2018 Sunny Southeast Regional Workshop in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, taking place Tuesday, February 27 through Friday, March 2. Anyone interested in planning, attending, or volunteering should contact Rhana Paris at (252) 475-2344 or

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