On Fire for Interpretation

CNC Naturalist Christie shares insights from her trip to the Regional NAI conference in March, 2017


What happens when you bring together naturalists, park rangers and folks from cultural and history centers all over the Southeast for a conference about Interpretation? You get a lot of good stuff — that’s what!

I was fortunate to attend the National Association for Interpretation’s “Sunny Southeast” Conference, March 7 -10, 2017, in Shepherdsville, KY (near Louisville).  We had 3 ½ days and nights of seminars, networking and meals together to share ideas and the latest trends that are working well for us in our field. 

One session I attended was about hosting a 36-hour “Bio-blitz;” an event we have considered having at CNC. The bio-blitz was in a Pisgah National Forest park, called Cradle of Forestry Heritage Site, near Asheville NC. Can you imagine organizing an outdoor event for volunteers–school and community groups, to come in specified time slots over a nonstop 2-day event, to count every different species each group could find in a small designated area for 2-4 hour shifts? The event turned out to be amazing and revealing; including the staff being unprepared for a few things: groups who showed up at unexpected times, cold and rainy weather conditions, not enough experts to cover each section to confirm species, and folks leaving before they reported all of the data.  

Overall though, it was an amazing and successful experience.  

Interpretation is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the resource. – NAI 2000.

Christie Hill has been the Naturalist and Docent Coordinator at the Chattahoochee Nature Center for 10 years, and has been integral in the education and training of staff and volunteers, She has been a Certified Interpretive Trainer since 2009. 

The Mission of the Chattahoochee Nature Center is to connect people with nature. Learn more at www.chattnaturecenter.org.