Monthly Archives: July 2017

A “Rockin” New Trend

Have you heard of this hip new trend of … painting rocks? It’s true! There are grassroots groups forming all over the country based around the simple activity of rock painting. Well, there’s a little more to it than that. It’s really about connecting with other people by sharing little mementos of positive thoughts expressed through painted rocks.

What people do is paint rocks with some kind of positive message, image, or anything they think might brighten someone else’s day, and then leave their rock in a random location for someone to find. They often leave some kind of information on the back, like a facebook group that the finder can contact, or another means of linking up with the rock painting community. And they also look for these rocks, sort of like a never-ending scavenger hunt, and report any findings to their group.


This movement grew out of an organization called The Kindness Rocks Project, whose stated goal is “to encourage others to find cool creative ways to reach out and brighten someone’s day unexpectedly.” You can find out more at their website: The Kindness Rocks Project. Additionally, if you search, you will probably discover many local groups associated with the project. Almost every county around my area seems to have one, and they share their painted rock pursuits through their group facebook pages.

What does this have to do with interpretation? Well, I think this trend offers a great opportunity for programming at many of our centers. Whether we do something simple like incorporating a rock-painting craft into a program, or something more involved where participants paint rocks and go for a hike to hide them, or whatever — it seems like something to consider tapping into. Personally, I think I’m going to try hosting a Rock Painting Party!

It’s simple, outdoor, nature-based fun, and a lot of people seem to be into it right now. And, there are existing online groups that we can communicate with and work with who might be excited to visit our site to pursue their hobby.

Anyway, this is just a very small thought for the blog this time. Nothing super deep or big. Just something I’ve come across and thought was really neat and wanted to share. Have a great rest of the summer everyone!


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Does Your Site Have Baggage?

I work at a Nature Center that was started in the early 1970s as a way to preserve greenspace in a developing community, to provide a place for people to learn and enjoy our natural resources. The city of Athens began in 1806, although the University of Georgia was chartered here in the 1780s. With such a long past, we must expect our site to have a little baggage. As a nature center, our focus is on the environment but it is hard to ignore the scars of past land uses.

Evidence is hiding all around our property, peeking out and exposing its tattered past. Scattered brick from the old brickyard emerge from the ground. Piles of tires, broken glass and haunting children’s toys are discarded relics when our country road sides became dumps. Faint traces of farming remain like terraces and barbed wire piercing the middle of a tree.

Although we are a nature center, it is important to look to the past and interpret the history of our land. I walked by a small hill on our property for 12 years before learning that it wasn’t a natural hill. It was formed when clay dredged from the pit was piled to dry before being formed into bricks. The brick factory created a clay pit that has now turned into a large pond. It makes a wonderful wetland full of fish, turtles, birds and beavers. Using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, we can see where soil was dug out for fill dirt when the highway was built, where old fence lines and road beds were. These remnants of the past have formed the landscape that we now protect.

The next time you are walking your natural site, stop and look around. Look for the scars that are hidden beneath the ground and out of the trees. What has your land been through in the past?

Author’s note: This post is written to those that work at sites that focus on nature. If you are a historical interpreter, you already know where those scars are. Take time to look and enjoy how nature has evolved and changed your landscape.




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Pop Science

When somebody says the word “research” my mind goes in multiple directions. The first words that came to my mind  are proven, scientifically factual, and methodically valid. When I bring this up to friends some of them think “boring”, due to the equations, language, statistics, and overall complexity that research often implies.

During my CIG courses I include this video to discuss how this can be an example of interpretation. What do you think?

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Enriching lives one cricket at a time!

The people are bustling, the animals are out and about, the heat is in full force, and the energy is high- yep, it’s summertime at the South Carolina Aquarium! We are oh-fish-ally in full summertime mode with engagements around every corner! Almost every half hour, guests have the chance to visit one of our captivating educational programs. A new one this summer, is our Ambassador Animal Enrichment Show. During this program, guests will be enriched while watching one of our education animals get enriched with a new habitat, treat, or food puzzle!

Animal care is always our top concern at the Aquarium and enrichment is one of the ways that we perform that care. For example, we may bring out our Bearded Dragon, Dundee and have crickets in a wiffle ball or PVC pipe for her. Dundee then has to use her natural adaptations and hunting skills to locate the crickets and eat them. Enrichment is anything new and different for the animals to experience. It encourages mental and physical stimulation, promoting overall health. This show gives guests a glimpse into our animal care practices, which is in turn enrichment for them. Aquarium visitors are becoming more and more interested in learning about the behind the scenes care rather than pure entertainment. Interpreting this during our shows has become the focus of our messaging and really helps us drive home our mission of conservation!


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