DIRECTOR'S ORDER #6: INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION
Approved: /s/ Fran P. Mainella
Effective Date: January 19, 2005
Sunset Date: January 19, 2011
NPS-6, "Interpretation and Visitor Services Guideline," (Release No. 3, December 1986), and any other conflicting instructions are superseded and replaced by this Director's Order and Reference Manual 6 (RM-6).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The goal of National Park Service (NPS) interpretive and educational programs is to provide memorable and meaningful learning and recreational experiences, foster development of a personal stewardship ethic, and broaden public support for preserving park resources. Such programs will be successful when they forge emotional and intellectual connections among park resources, visitors, the community, and park management. The NPS will provide visitors with an experience that is enjoyable and meaningful within the context of the park's resources and the values they represent. NPS interpretive and educational programs will strengthen public understanding of the full meaning and relevance of heritage resources, both cultural and natural, by creating public dialogue and fostering civic engagement. In addition, visitors should be made aware of the purposes and scope of the national park system. Interpretation and education is the key to preserving both the idea of national parks and the park resources themselves. In a world of rapidly changing demographics, it is essential that interpretive and educational programs reach beyond park boundaries to schools and the wider general public.
The purpose of this Director's Order is to supplement Management Policies
with operational policies and procedures necessary to maintain effective,
high-quality interpretive and educational programs. This Director's Order
supports goal categories I and II of the NPS Strategic Plan, which calls
for "Preserving Park Resources" and "Providing for the
Public Enjoyment and
Authority to issue this Director's Order is contained in the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act (16 USC 1 - 4) and delegations of authority contained in Part 245 of the Department of the Interior Manual.
Authority for NPS interpretive and educational programs is contained in the Organic Act; the 1935 Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act (16 USC 462(j)); the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 USC 4332(G)); and the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 (16 USC 5911).
A number of parks have specific mandates or direction from Congress to provide interpretive and educational experiences to the public in their enabling legislation.
This Director's Order is intended only to improve the internal management of the NPS, and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.
See Management Policies, chapter 7, introduction.
3.2 Associate Director for Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation
The Associate Director for Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation, acting through the Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education, will oversee the NPS Interpretation and Education Program, and develop necessary standards and procedures. The Associate Director will issue, review, and revise as appropriate, RM-6, which will provide more detailed procedural guidance on administering the program.
3.3 Interpretation and Education Program Manager will:
3.4 Regional Offices will:
3.5 Harpers Ferry Center (HFC) will:
(For more information on HFC, see RM-6. Also see section 10.3 below)
3.6 Superintendents will:
(See section 5.2, Comprehensive Interpretive Plan, and section 7.1, Interpretive Development Program)
3.7 Park Chiefs of Interpretation will:
(See Director's Order #75A: Civic Engagement and Public Involvement)
In accordance with Section 7.1 of Management Policies, effective interpretive and educational programs will include a variety of services such as informational and orientation programs, interpretive programs, educational programs, and interpretive media. NPS educational programs are designed to enrich lives and enhance learning, nurturing people's appreciation for parks and other special places, therefore helping to preserve America's heritage. To accomplish this, the NPS will develop interpretive and educational programs according to the following principles:
(See Renewing Our Education Mission, and RM-6. Also see Director's Order #21: Donations and Fundraising)
Sound interpretive planning provides an organized method for making informed choices about a park's interpretive and educational program. It can provide solutions to management problems, with the goals of encouraging preservation of park resources, and fostering increased visitor understanding, appreciation, enjoyment, and stewardship. The comprehensive interpretive planning process provides an organized method to define the park story, and will be a collaborative effort, with on-going public involvement that includes subject-matter experts to incorporate new scholarship, and partners and other stakeholders as vital participants in its development.
(See Director's Order #75A: Civic Engagement and Public Involvement)
5.2 Comprehensive Interpretive Plan (CIP)
All parks will have a current CIP as required by Management Policies, chapter 7. The CIP will be initiated and approved by the superintendent and may be completed by field staff with guidance from the regional office, HFC, and/or a private sector planner. Superintendents must assure that the CIP receives a thorough review approximately every five years.
The CIP will include:
Other interpretive plans, such as education plans, exhibit plans, wayside exhibit plans, publications plans, historic furnishings plans, and scope of sales will be based on the Long-Range Interpretive Plan and become part of the interpretive database. The interpretive database contains resource material for the park's interpretive program, including bibliographies and studies as varied as General Management Plans and Historic Resource Studies.
For detailed information on the content, process, and responsible parties involved in the comprehensive interpretive planning process, please refer to the publication entitled, Comprehensive Interpretive Planning (NPS, Fall 2000).
(See RM-6 for details on the CIP process and components)
6.1 Personal Services
Personal services are those in which staffs (paid employees, VIPs, cooperating association employees and concession employees) facilitate opportunities for emotional and intellectual connections between resources and visitors. Each park will offer a variety of personal services, which could be in collaboration with partners, to inform and orient visitors, to increase understanding and appreciation of park values, to protect park resources, and to improve visitor safety. Personal services must take into consideration audience characteristics, multiple points of view, and the available time of the audience. They must be well research, pre-planned, and have a theme, goal, and objective with desired measurable outcomes.
Examples of personal services include:
(See sections 8.6, Cultural Demonstrators and 8.7, Historic Weapons below, and RM-6)
6.2 Curriculum-based Educational Programs
A formal, curriculum-based educational program matches a group's educational objectives with park resources. The Service will provide programs based on national, state, and local content standards. The content of curriculum-based programs will be relevant to the resources of the park and the impacts endangering those resources, and conservation or preservation issues relevant to the park. Pursuant to 16 USC 17j-2(j), parks may provide transportation of children to and from interpretive and educational programs. Park curriculum-based programs will:
6.3 Parks as Classrooms Program
The Parks as Classrooms® grant program supports programs, activities, and products that allow students and the public to become involved in resource-based learning in such a way that they become better informed about scientific, historical, and cultural processes and research, and can apply this knowledge toward the formulation of their personal decision-making and stewardship ethic. Parks as Classrooms supports programs for youth groups, clubs, home school groups and others. The emphasis is not on designing individual projects, but rather aiding the development of a life-long stewardship and democratic ethic in the general public through participatory educational resource programs. The Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education administers the program. Parks choosing to compete for Parks as Classrooms grants must submit a proposal each year and follow the required application procedures. Parks as Classrooms funding from the Washington Office is not required for use of the Parks as Classrooms trademark or logo. Parks as Classrooms is a registered trademark designed to provide professional recognition for National Park Service education programs.
(For more information on education programs, see RM-6)
6.4 Special Events
(See Director's Order #53: Special Park Uses, for further information on special events)
6.5 Non-Personal Services
6.6 User Fees for Interpretive and Educational Services
The National Park Service has the authority to charge expanded activity fees, formerly known as use fees, for the use of facilities, equipment, or services that provide a direct benefit to the visitor beyond the benefit derived from the basic entrance fee.
Authority for the Service to charge these fees is contained in: (1) 16 USC 1a-2(g); (2) the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 1996, 16 USC 460l-6a note (PL 104-134, title III, section 315) (Fee Demonstration); and (3) 16 USC 3a (for Special Park Uses). Each authority has different parameters associated with it concerning types of appropriate fee activities, retention of funds, expenditure of funds, year-end and no year-end requirements.
Before implementing interpretive fees, superintendents must:
(See RM-6; Director's Order #22: Fee Program, and Reference Manual 22; and Director's Order #53: Special Park Uses, for further information)
7.1 The Interpretive Development Program
The goal of the Interpretive Development Program (IDP) is employee development and understanding of the elements of interpretive and educational work. The quality of interpretive and educational programs presented to the public, and by extension the image and reputation of the National Park Service, are directly related to the skills, training, and professionalism of those who provide the service. The IDP identifies key skills for interpreters, standards for measuring interpretive programs, and employee developmental opportunities. A competent, well-trained work force is essential to the delivery of high-quality interpretation and education.
Accordingly, all managers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that their employees develop the skills required to meet the established interpretive standards. All NPS interpreters will strive to achieve the certification standards for the interpretive certification benchmarks identified in the IDP. The same standards that apply to the NPS work force will also apply to cooperators, concessioners, contractors, and other partners who deliver interpretive and educational services in collaboration with or on behalf of the National Park Service.
Field employees developed the IDP as a comprehensive definition of the broad scope of duties, responsibilities, and services provided to serve the public and protect park resources. The knowledge, skills, and abilities contained within the program provide a philosophical and practical grounding for all who provide interpretation in NPS areas. The benchmark interpretive competencies described in the program support Ranger Careers positions, but as a development opportunity anyone is encourage to participate. Above all, the program provides guidance for individuals to achieve interpretive excellence.
(For more information on the IDP, see RM-6)
7.2 Professional Organizations
The National Park Service encourages membership and participation in professional organizations that support NPS goals, such as the American Association for State and Local History, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the George Wright Society, the National Association for Interpretation, the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council on Public History, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, the Organization of American Historians, and others. Employees who choose to belong to professional organizations must bear the cost of those memberships. NPS units may choose to pay for institutional memberships.
8.1 Access to Interpretive and Educational Opportunities
The NPS will ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that persons with disabilities receive the same interpretive opportunities as non-disabled persons, in the most integrated setting possible.
(See section 7.5.1 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #42: Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities in National Park Service Programs and Services)
8.2 Interpretive and Educational Services Beyond Park Boundaries
NPS and non-NPS sites are encouraged to identify potential common interests and develop and share resources and opportunities for appropriate interpretive and educational services. Opportunities could be on-site, off-site, or virtual.
(See Section 7.5.2 of Management Policies)
8.3 Resource Issue Interpretation and Education
Interpretive and educational programs can build public understanding of, and support for, resource management decisions, and for the NPS mission in general. Therefore, parks should thoroughly integrate resource issues and initiatives of local and Service-wide importance into their interpretive and educational programs.
(See section 7.5.3 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #13A: Environmental Management Systems)
(See section 8.5, Consultation below)
The NPS will present factual and balanced presentations of the many American cultures, heritages, and histories. Through civic engagement, consultation, and collaboration with diverse constituencies, the NPS fosters the development of effective and meaningful interpretive and educational programs. Broad civic engagement ensures appropriate content and accuracy, and identifies multiple points of view and potentially sensitive issues. The Service will actively consult traditionally associated peoples and other cultural and community groups in the planning, development, presentation, and operation of park interpretive and educational programs.
(See sections 5.2.1 and 7.5.5 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #75A: Civic Engagement and Public Involvement)
8.6 Cultural Demonstrators
Cultural demonstrators can provide unique insights into different cultures. In order to facilitate successful interaction with the public, parks must provide cultural demonstrators with training and direction. It is essential that cultural demonstrators possess interpretive and educational skills in addition to expertise in demonstrating a craft or activity. The superintendent may authorize the use of cultural demonstrators through a cooperative agreement, special use permit, concession permit, or other appropriate instrument.
(See section 7.5.6 of Management Policies)
8.7 Historic Weapons
Historic weapons demonstrations are interpretive demonstrations and should meet the standards for interpretive programs found in this Director's Order and in RM-6. All uses of historic weapons in parks will strictly comply with the Standards for Historic Weapons Firing in Areas Administered by the NPS.
(See section 7.5.7 of Management Policies)
Battle re-enactments and demonstrations of battle tactics that involve exchanges of fire between opposing lines, the taking of casualties, hand-to-hand combat, or any other form of simulated warfare, are prohibited in all parks. Battle re-enactments create an atmosphere inconsistent with the memorial qualities of the battlefields and other military sites placed in the Service's trust.
8.9 Museum Objects
Accessioned original museum objects will not be used in interpretive and educational programs or in other activities that could lead to loss or deterioration. Exemptions may be granted in accordance with the Museum Handbook. Reproductions used in place of original museum objects must be marked as such. These reproductions will be controlled and accounted for as required by the Museum Handbook.
(See Director's Order #24: NPS Museum Collections Management)
In some cases, connections to the resource can be enhanced, and the visitor experience enriched, through the use of partnerships. Interpretive services provided to the NPS by partners will be in addition to, and not take the place of, a park's basic interpretive and educational services. To ensure quality control and appropriateness, NPS interpretive staff will be involved in the planning, approval, training, monitoring and evaluation of all interpretive services provided by others. Partners providing interpretive services will be given opportunities to participate in the Interpretive Development Program.
(See section 7.6 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #7: Volunteers in Parks, Director's Order #20: Agreements, Director's Order #21: Donations and Fundraising, and Director's Order #32: Cooperating Associations)
9.2 Cooperating Associations
Enabled by a standard, non-negotiable agreement, a cooperating association may, consistent with a park's scope-of-sales statement, purchase for re-sale or produce for sale, interpretive and educational items that are directly related to the understanding and interpretation of the park or the national park system. The cooperating association may also (1) support research efforts, (2) accept donations on behalf of the Service, when appropriate and when conducted through approved fund-raising efforts, and (3) offer appropriate and approved interpretive and educational services or programs that support but do not supplant those offered by the NPS. Cooperating association interpretive and educational services may be offered for a fee. Revenue from such fees is returned to the NPS through the cooperating association's regular donation process.
(See section 7.6.2 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #32: Cooperating Associations and Reference Manual 32)
9.3 Volunteers in Parks
Volunteers offering interpretive and educational services will be provided opportunities to demonstrate interpretive and educational skills, and will strive to meet the certification standards for the effective delivery of programs found in the IDP. They also will be provided necessary equipment and safety training. Volunteers will not displace NPS employees, and will be provided NPS housing only if available and not needed for NPS employees.
(See section 7.1, Interpretive Development Program above. Also see section 7.6.1 of Management Policies; Director's Order #7: Volunteers in Parks, and Reference Manual 7; and Director's Order #36: Housing Management)
The appropriate role of commercial operations in helping a park achieve the desired visitor experience will be identified in a commercial services plan. The plan may call on a park concessioner to provide interpretive and educational services. Concessions employees providing such services will be trained, either by the concessioner or through participation in NPS training. Any fees for these services are collected by concessioners and are part of their revenue. The NPS will review concessions programs and written materials to ensure that the information they contain is accurate, appropriate, and related to park themes, applying the same standards used to evaluate NPS interpretive and educational services.
(See sections 10.2.2 and 10.2.4.4 of Management Policies, Director's Order #48A: Concession Management, and Reference Manual #48A)
9.5 Interpretive Services Provided for Fee by Other Individuals or Organizations
See Director's Order #48B: Commercial Use Authorizations.
10.1 Service-wide Interpretive Report (10-769)
The Service-wide Interpretive Report (10-769) provides a Service-wide interpretive overview and describes how ONPS funds and certain other funding sources are used to provide a national program of interpretation and education. It is a useful tool for analyzing park interpretive and educational programs, but it is primarily a national report used to meet requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) , the NPS Annual Report, and NPS budget requirements. Each park must submit its individual report, via the National Park Service website to the Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education, by October 31 each year.
10.2 Parks as Classrooms Report
Each park that receives a Parks as Classrooms grant will prepare an annual report on the project. The report will include: (1) a short narrative that describes the program; (2) an accounting of all funds used to support the project, including grant funds, matching funds, and in-kind donations; and (3) statistical information including the number of students and teachers served. Park reports are due in the Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education, by January 31.
10.3 Free Informational Publications - Semiannual Inventory Report (10-80)
The Free Informational Publications - Semiannual Inventory Report Form (10-80) is used to inventory the Harpers Ferry Center Department of Publications-produced "official map and guide" brochures only. The report must be submitted to Harpers Ferry Center twice a year, by March 30 and September 30.
Each park that has a volunteer program must submit a VIP Program Activity and Expense Report (Form 10-150) for the fiscal year. The report will be submitted via the National Park Service website to the Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education, by October 31 each year.
(See section 12.2 of Director's Order #7: Volunteers in Parks)
10.5 Media Inventory Database System
The web-based Media Inventory Database System (MIDS) provides an inventory and quality assessment of the interpretive media in a park. Because MIDS information is useful in identifying the content and physical condition of interpretive media, each park should review its MIDS entries at least once a year, adding new media and revising the quality of existing entries as necessary.
Greater detail and direction on many of the topics in this Director's Order can be found in RM-6, which will be issued by the Associate Director for Partnerships, Interpretation and Education, Volunteers, and Outdoor Recreation.
The following Director's Orders will be helpful in providing further guidance for developing and managing interpretive and educational programs.
Director's Order #2: Park Planning
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