Interpretation for Archeologists   5. Personal and Professional Responsibilities   Distance Learning

Archeologist-Interpreter Teamwork

Teamwork and partnerships are an important professional responsibility, be they groups of archeologists and interpreters, or communities and organizations. By working together, archeologists and interpreters can build strong interpretive products for archeology that are better than they do alone. Building a team of professional and public perspectives means sharing authority and credit on a project, with the goal of establishing deepened engagement around archeological stewardship.

The objectives of teamwork between archeologists, interpreters, and partners include:

  • Integration of current archeological information into interpretive services
  • Actively contributing or soliciting input from other experts
  • Placing archeological resources into an interdisciplinary context
  • Creation of well-balanced, holistic interpretive plans
  • Mutual understanding of interpretive themes, techniques, and opportunities
  • Frequently interacting and discussing the status of archeological projects, programs, actions, and their relevance to interpretive programs
  • Creation of training opportunities (formal or informal) for park interpreters, keeping them apprised of current research, new theories, and possible conflicting explanations about the park's archeological record.

For Your Information

NPS Essentials: Teamwork (NPS Common Learning Portal)
Successful team work can help ensure the success of the NPS mission; the NPS encourages a team-driven workplace. There are many models, ideas, and resources about working in teams. Expore these examples for ways to look at team dynamics and the roles of team members.

Partnerships with non-NPS Entities

NPS parks and programs maintain partnerships with non-NPS entities, including: educational institutions and organizations; Native American groups; federal, state and local governmental agencies; friends groups; private sector businesses; and non-profit organizations, including professional societies. Partnerships in interpretation often develop when the NPS or partner cannot deliver a product on their own.

Characteristics of partnerships include:

  • Projects that support the missions of both the NPS and the partner
  • Products that neither entity has the capacity to deliver on their own
  • Ability for each entity to contribute in an area of their strength and receive in an area of deficit
  • Collaborative development
  • Contribution of new perspectives
  • Shared credit

Partnerships often require a memorandum of understanding, task agreement, or concession contract. Which mechanism to use depends on a number of factors. Check with your budget office for more information. Training is available, especially if you are tasked with particular management roles.

Case Study

NPS Hosts Archeological Excavations and Exhibit Opening
Read a 2011 press release announcing the opening of a new archeological exhibit and associated activities at Fort Raliegh, which the NPS carried out with partner organizations.

For Your Information

NPS Essentials: Partnerships (NPS Common Learning Portal)
Learn about what "partnership" means in the NPS and ways that the NPS partners with various organizations.

NPS Partnerships
Find authorities for partnerships, including nonprofit partners and philanthropic organizations. Explore the toolkit for help on communications.

Module 320: Partners in Interpretation
Review the training curriculum for interpreters to establish successful partnerships in interpretation with non-NPS entities.

Use What You Know: Assess Your Knowledge (#6 of 10)

(icon) A ranger's hat.
  • Choose a controversial topic at your park that the archeological perspective may enhance.
  • Use the interpretive equation and the interpretive process model to outline a strategy.
  • List audiences, multiple perspectives, multiple resources, and possible approaches.
  • Imagine the responses and write out answers to visitors who challenge the approach of multiple perspectives on controversial material.

MJB/EJL