Interpretation for Archeologists   3. What Do Interpreters Do?   Distance Learning

What Are Interpreters’ Roles?

Interpreters fill many roles within the NPS, beyond front line communication with the public. Just as excavation tends to be a small part of what archeologists do, public-facing interpretation is often a fraction of an interpreter's total workload.

Interpreters' public-facing activities may include:

  • Ranger programs and tours
  • Off-site visits to schools or local organizations
  • Special events, like anniversary celebrations, season-related days or archeology months
  • Staffing visitor centers

To carry out that work, from behind-the-scenes interpreters will:

  • Develop primary themes and messages
  • Identify research priorities and gaps in knowledge
  • Write and practice new tours and programs
  • Research and write copy for exhibits, publications, and the park website
  • Contribute to interpretive plans, management plans, and visitor use plans
  • Complete training to hone their skills and abilities
  • Supervise, train, and mentor new staff, interns, and volunteers
  • Submit funding requests for staff, seasonals, volunteers, publications, exhibits, and waysides
  • Collaborate with partners or friends groups on events, publications, or other projects that fulfill a park's primary interpretive themes.

Not only do they create and deliver interpretive products, but interpreters know which resources best convey a park's significance. They can inform park management when making resource management decisions and prioritizing projects. By knowing the scope of interpreters' roles, archeologists can become more effective partners in communicating the significance and value of archeological resources to the public.

Try It Yourself

At what points in the lists above might archeologists insert their knowledge and ideas? How would you reach out to interpreters to work together?

MJB/EJL