August is here and summer is slooooowly drawing to close. Some of you may be done with summer programming and others may be still working through a few more weeks of camp (schools starts soon, right? RIGHT?!?). As we wind down what is, for most sites, an incredibly busy season, take time to rest, recharge, and reflect. This might mean going on a staff field trip to celebrate surviving the summer or hiding under your desk for a well-deserved nap (for my managers who may be reading, I promise I have almost never done this). Be sure to take some time to think back on camps and/or summer programs. This is your one chance to remember and write it all down before diving into the Fall season! Consider….
- Which programs/camps worked?
- Which did not?
- Why didn’t they work the way I wanted them to? Should I change my parameters (age, space, time) or my focus (the topic rocks but do I need to address it differently)?
- Why did they work the way I wanted them to? How can I duplicate this radical success next year?
- Did I remember to lock up all the canoes?
- How did my totally awesome co-workers support me this summer? How can I plan to support them next year?
- After I planned for everything, what issues came up that I didn’t plan for?
- What was the best part of the summer for me? How can I try to replicate this feeling next summer?
Every day(camp) offers a new learning opportunity, even for the most jaded interpretation professional. Take what you have learned, use your experiences, and create something even better for next year!
So a few of you are aware I’m about ten years behind when it comes to technological tools. A tool I’ve recently adopted (within the past two weeks) is that of a podcast. For some generations and users this is a tool that’s been around since 2005ish. Yup, I’m late to the party.
Does anyone subscribe to any podcasts that relate to your job or interpretation?
In an attempt to continue to find nuggets to become a better interpreter, manager, Dad, human, I’m always looking at ways to sharpen myself and learn. For me this has traditionally come through articles, books, mentors, and conferences. One night I decided to hit the podcast icon on my phone and see what happens. Little did I know there are so many relatable podcast topics out there that relate to our field of interpretation.
I personally enjoy leadership tidbits so I typed in leadership. Numerous podcasts with examples of topics and issues I find in the workplace appeared. The next button I hit was SUBSCRIBE. I did this for three different pod casts and now my morning commute becomes a thirty to forty minute leadership session and a way to start reflecting about my work day and work on me.
For fun, I typed in “interpretation.” Interpreting dreams, interpreting religion, and interpreting language seemed to be the common themes in those podcasts. I then tried “Nature”. Some fun podcasts came up relating to sounds, birds, philosophy, medicine, and recent science talks at museums. Typing in “Naturalist” will also bring you some great choices with regional relevance.
Whether you’re late to the party or not, I encourage you to give it a try. If you’re looking for good discussion with your staff, share a podcast with them to discuss. If you’re looking for guidance on managerial or staffing issues check out some of the podcasts out there. If you want to listen to the style of other naturalists, or see what’s going on with your regional phenology there’s podcasts out there. Perhaps this tool can help you research and develop your next interpretive talk. Millions of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, perhaps this is another way for interpreters to sharpen and share our craft.
The family and I recently visited Tallulah Gorge State Park in northern Georgia and we had a fantastic visit. We hiked down the seemingly endless steps into the gorge, took in the scenic views, and experienced some stunning waterfalls. It’s a fantastic natural treasure in the state of Georgia.
And some of the people there are treasures too—like Lloyd. As we left the visitors center, I noticed a park employee changing out the trash receptacles. He stopped to ask me if I enjoyed my hike that day. In the space of five minutes, he then asked the same question to everyone that walked by. In some cases he gave directions or answered questions that visitors had about other sights or trails in the area. I saw that after a brief chat with Lloyd, a few people that were obviously weary from hiking up too many steps change their demeanor and break into a broad grin. The thought that occurred to me was that all parks need a guy like Lloyd.
Sure, we greet folks at the front counter, hand out maps, and tell them to enjoy their day—but to have an exit survey is a useful tool. Just someone to ask them how their walk went, what they saw, or to let them know what else they can see in the area. It adds a nice conclusive chapter to an otherwise enjoyable day. I know it’s not easy today with reduced staff levels and budget cuts to have a person at the exit, but it sure goes a long way to have someone who can acknowledge visitors and their experience at your facility. Good job Lloyd.