The Interpreter's Handbook
Methods, Skills, & Techniques


For more than 33 years, I have been involved with the problems of interpretation, mostly in the National Parks and Monuments throughout the United States. Time spent in the field has only underscored the fact that it is a broad subject, and no one can expect to contact all of its many facets. Yet the years have definitely disclosed certain basic patterns that, if followed, insure a desired result. Interpretive methods, skills and techniques are constantly improving. New devices are being produced, so one cannot simply select one medium and say "this is the best." The media selected are only the best he knows about until better ones come along.

In this book I have recorded those things that have proved themselves through the years. I consider them basic to sound interpretation, and all can be built upon without question as to their worth. Because these methods, skills and techniques were, in large measure, developed in the many parks of our country—National, State and local—examples will mostly come from these sources.

This book, then, is primarily directed toward those persons who do interpretive work in the natural, historical, archeological and recreation parks, forests and museums of our country, although the methods and techniques described are equally effective in many activities and situations where interpretation is to be accomplished.

I am especially appreciative of the many ways in which interpreters in the National and State parks over the country have aided me through the years in my efforts to become an accomplished field naturalist and interpreter. It is not possible here to mention all of them, but the names of such pioneer interpreters as Edwin D. McKee, "Bert" Harwell, "Ed" Beatty, Natt Dodge, Doug Hubbard, Frank Brockman, George Ruhle, Ben Gale, Louis Schellbach, Howard Stagner, Carl Russell, Bill Carr, Earl Jackson and Paul Covell quickly come to mind. Others are presently making their own contributions to new ways of interpreting their areas. Many of their time-proven methods have been incorporated in this book.

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Last Updated: 01-May-2008
Copyrighted by Southwestern Parks and Monuments Association
Western National Parks Association