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Submission Guidelines for Certification Review

Demonstrating Successful Informal Visitor Contacts
(Module 102)

Competency assessment:
Requires the interpreter to analyze, self-assess and document in writing the interactions from 4-6 informal visitor contacts, demonstrating an understanding of when and why to provide basic and indepth orientation and information, and when, why and how to facilitate interpretive opportunities.

Notes to submitters:

  • Submissions from seasonals, volunteers, partners, interns -- As of July 15, 2010, seasonals may again submit for this competency but only after completion of an advanced certificate in the on-line course for this competency. Submit a copy of your advanced certificate with your submission packet as described below.

  • Revised Submission Format -- The assessment rubric, submission questionnaire (log format), and submission guidelines for this competency were revised effective August 30, 2007. Please use the revised format below for all submissions -- older formats are no longer accepted.

Before Submitting

  • Before preparing your submission, it is to your advantage to review the certification assessment rubric, the sample log entries, and the learning resources for this competency.

  • The IDP on-line course for this competency is a recommended pre-requisite to submission for permanent employees -- and an advanced certificate in this course is a required prerequisite for non-permanent employees. Go to for on-line course information.

  • If you are not familiar with the process and principles of interpretation as outlined in Foundations of Interpretation (formerly Module 101), you may find it more difficult to meet the Informal Visitor Contacts certification standard.

What to Submit

  • A log of your description and analysis of four to six informal visitor contacts, gathered over a period of time, sent in one electronic file.

  • Use the Informal Visitor Contacts Log Entry Form to document your contacts (link below).

  • Also send an electronic copy of the Product Submission Registration Form (link below). Seasonals also attach a copy of your advanced certificate from the on-line course in this competency.

Preparing Your Submission

You will prepare and submit four (minimum) to six (maximum) Informal Visitor Contact Log Entries.

  • One entry should describe and analyze an encounter in which basic orientation/information was provided to the visitor. 

  • One entry should describe and analyze an encounter in which in-depth orientation/information was provided to the visitor. 

  • Two entries should describe and analyze encounters in which interpretation was provided to the visitor (opportunities provided for connections to resource meanings). Naturally, an interpretive contact might also include information/orientation or include a transition between information/orientation and interpretation rather than only providing interpretation.

  • You may submit up to two additional log entries (for a maximum of six).  The two additional entries may describe and analyze any of the three types of contacts described above. An advantage of submitting additional entries is to more clearly demonstrate an understanding of a visitor-centered decision path as well as the ability to facilitate opportunities for visitors to make their own intellectual and/or emotional connections to resource meanings.

  • Contacts should be chosen that, as a group, show your range and abilities in effective informal contacts. Review your entries with your supervisor as you write them, if possible.

Please combine (cut and paste) your four to six Informal Visitor Contact Entries into one master electronic file, with each entry numbered. Each should be concise, but should provide sufficient information to completely describe the dialogue with the visitors, to clearly convey the flow of the contact, and to thoroughly analyze your decision path and interpretive choices.

Key Submission Points

  • Your analysis of what you did/said in the encounters, and what you attempted to accomplish and why, is the basis for the certification review.

  • Each entry should clearly articulate the decision path you followed based on visitor cues, comments, and reactions, or other considerations.

  • The overall series of entries should clearly demonstrate an understanding of the difference between providing orientation/information and providing interpretation, and an understanding of an intentional strategy/methodology for introducing visitors to the intangible meanings associated with park resources.

  • For interpretive encounters, describe how you attempted to provide the best possible opportunity – most favorable set of circumstances – for connections to resource meanings to occur, and be cautious about assuming visitor perceptions. The focus should be on the opportunities you attempted to provide, rather than whether or not a connection actually happened within the visitor.

  • When reviewing your log, certifiers will assume a good faith effort, and that accuracy and authenticity of all logs have been verified at the park level.

Where to Submit

When all four to six entries are complete and you and your supervisor agree, the entire file should be sent electronically (all four to six entries in one attached document, please) to the office of the Certification Program Manager (, by e-mail. Please attach your "Product Submission Registration Form" separately in the electronic submission.Seasonals also attach a copy of your advanced certificate from the on-line course in this competency. (In Lotus Notes, select "Return Receipt" under Delivery Options, and you will get an automatic delivery confirmation by return e-mail when your message is received by the Program Manager.)

If e-mail is unavailable, send a CD, diskette or three hard copies, along with one copy of the registration form, to: Certification Program Manager, Interpretive Development Program, Mather Training Center, P.O. Box 77, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Attn: Product submission. (You can request a "delivery confirmation" from the post office.)

Note: The change in the required number of log entries to four-six has been implemented in response to feedback from the field. The old narrative format and older versions of the log entry form are no longer being accepted.

Certification in this competency serves the overall development of employees in Ranger Careers positions, and meets the NPS national standard for informal visitor contacts. Certification in this competency is a point-in-time assessment only. Long-term performance is measured at the park level. Eligibility for promotion is determined by the supervisor and park.

When reviewing your log, certifiers will assume a good faith effort that is your own personal work, and that accuracy and authenticity have been verified at the park level.

Informal Visitor Contacts Log Entry Form :
Download in a Word format (53KB).

Product Submission Registration Form
(Download in a Word format (43KB).

Sample Log Entries for Reference
Samples in PDF format

Examples of audience types:
(can be single person or a small group)

civic organizations
college students
distressed visitors
non-english speaking
persons with disabilities
school groups
senior citizens

Examples of encounter types:

entrance station
information desk
non-confrontation law enforcement
point duty/fixed station
pre- and post-program discussions
resource protection interactions
safety issues
sales area


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Last module update: July, 2010
Editor: STMA Training Manager Interpretation

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