Director's Order graphic


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and Visitor Services Guideline," (Release No. 3, December 1986), and any other conflicting instructions are superseded and replaced by this Director's Order and Reference Manual 6 (RM-6).


1. Background and Purpose
2. Authority
3. Roles and Responsibilities
4. Interpretive and Educational Programs
5. Interpretive Planning
6. Personal and Non-personal Services
7. Interpretive Competencies and Skills
8. Requirements for All Interpretive and Educational Services
9. Interpretive and Educational Partnerships
10. Reporting Requirements
11. For Further Reference


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
Visitor Experience of Parks." For further guidance, see the June 2003 report, Renewing Our Education Mission, and RM-6.


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.


3.1 General

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:

  • Oversee the NPS Interpretation and Education Program, and is responsible for day-to-day administration;
  • Formulate Service-wide policies for planning and implementing interpretive and educational programs, and establish standards, evaluation criteria, and performance measures for individual park interpretive and educational programs;
  • Identify and support Service-wide priorities and interpretive and educational initiatives;
  • Serve as an advocate for interpretive and educational programs, media development, and comprehensive interpretive planning throughout the Service;
  • Provide interdisciplinary coordination with other Service-wide programs relative to interpretation and education;
  • Direct and support a national interpretive and educational training and development program to ensure a competent and motivated work force; and
  • Manage the Cooperating Associations, Volunteers-in-Parks, Parks as Classrooms, Historic Weapons Demonstration Safety, and such other Service-wide programs that support the work of interpretation and education throughout the Service.

3.4 Regional Offices will:

  • Serve as a resource to the parks in the region for all matters relating to interpretation and education;
  • Serve as an advocate for interpretive and educational programs in the region;
  • Manage interpretive and educational training and developmental opportunities;
  • Manage comprehensive interpretive planning;
  • Manage the regional Cooperating Associations, Volunteers-in-Parks, and Parks as Classrooms programs, and select the annual Freeman Tilden Award nominee;
  • Provide guidance to Harpers Ferry Center in setting interpretive planning and media production priorities;
  • Seek interdisciplinary coordination with other regional programs relative to interpretation and education in parks;
  • Assist parks in using on-going civic engagement strategies, consultation, and collaboration to enhance interpretative and educational programs;
  • Assist parks in compliance with Service-wide interpretive and educational policies and standards;
  • Identify regional interpretive and educational priorities and initiatives; and
  • Work with regional historic weapons points-of-contact to ensure regular safety inspections of park historic weapons programs and compliance with Service-wide guidelines and standards.

(See RM-6)

3.5 Harpers Ferry Center (HFC) will:

  • Provide assistance with the development of interpretive media in the following areas: interpretive planning, museum and visitor center exhibits, historic furnishings, artifact conservation, wayside exhibits, audiovisual productions, publications, graphic identity, and directional signs.
  • Provide a full spectrum of interpretive media developmental services for the use and benefit of national parks. This may include full in-house services for planning, design, and production oversight of interpretive media with maximum involvement of HFC. Or, it may include HFC's oversight of national contracts for interpretive planning, design, and production of interpretive media projects that are managed by park and/or regional staff with minimal direct HFC involvement. HFC will advise parks on the level of assistance necessary for a successful project based on park staff expertise, regional support, and HFC availability.
  • Provide interpretive and visitor experience planning for General Management Plans, Long-Range Interpretive Plans and other National Park Service plans with visitor or interpretive components.
  • Establish and maintain standards, evaluation criteria, and accountability for interpretive planning and interpretive media planning, design and production in consultation with field units across the Service. Plans or proposals to be accomplished by parks and regions, including privately funded projects, must comply with these standards and may be reviewed by HFC for appropriateness and quality of design and execution.
  • Develop and update education design standards that provide guidance on learning styles and the production of teaching aids and interpretive media and serve as a clearinghouse for research in the field.
  • Prepare all official park brochures in accordance with the established graphic system and priorities established by regions.
  • Collaborate with Denver Service Center, architectural and engineering firms, and park chiefs to coordinate the planning, design, and installation of interpretive media in park facilities.
  • Provide media consultation and evaluation, and support services to the Director and Washington Office as requested.
  • Support the development of skills for park interpreters and managers to successfully manage interpretive media projects using standards, training, mentoring, and coaching of HFC staff consistent with the Interpretive Development Program.
  • Develop and maintain comprehensive graphic identity standards for the National Park Service, and provide appropriate tools to agency personnel to facilitate the application of the standards to all visual communication materials.
  • Develop and implement a Service-wide program for the planning, design, fabrication, and delivery of all park signs intended for identification, information, way finding and interpretation. and,
  • On an annual basis, solicit and give careful consideration to field comments on HFC's services and priorities.

(For more information on HFC, see RM-6. Also see section 10.3 below)

3.6 Superintendents will:

  • Manage and provide oversight of the interpretive and educational program through the development of the park strategic plan and the comprehensive interpretive plan, and use civic engagement to initiate and maintain a vibrant and meaningful program;
  • Require NPS personnel, as well as non-NPS individuals who provide interpretive and educational services in units of the national park system on behalf of the NPS, to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for effective delivery of interpretive and educational programs;
  • Approve, implement, and maintain a current park comprehensive interpretive plan (CIP);
  • Ensure park participation in the annual survey of park users, and incorporate the results into the NPS Performance Management Data System; and,
  • Ensure that annual reporting requirements are met.

(See section 5.2, Comprehensive Interpretive Plan, and section 7.1, Interpretive Development Program)

3.7 Park Chiefs of Interpretation will:

  • Create, plan, and manage an interpretation and education program that fosters an on-going dialogue with the public to accomplish park objectives, supports regional and national goals, and relates directly to the primary themes and management strategies of the park as established in legislation and park plans;
  • Make effective decisions about delivery of messages including the use and balance of personal and non-personal services and appropriate media;
  • Create and prioritize an annual implementation plan to accomplish goals outlined in the parks comprehensive interpretive plan;
  • Be responsible for day-to-day management of the park interpretive and educational program in accordance with the park strategic plan and comprehensive interpretive plan;
  • Serve as a member of the park management team;
  • Ensure that all NPS interpreters strive to achieve certification standards for their essential competencies identified in the Interpretive Development Program;
  • Maximize efficiencies and make effective use of all the park's potential personnel resources, including partners, concessioners, cooperating associations, and volunteers, for the delivery of interpretive and educational programs;
  • Provide an active outreach program; and,
  • Provide an on-going evaluation of all interpretive and educational services for the purpose of ascertaining effectiveness.

(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:

  • NPS programs are place-based. Programs use national parks and other places as dynamic classrooms where people interact with real places, landscapes, historic structures, and other tangible resources that help them understand meaning, concepts, stories, and relationships.
  • NPS programs are learner-centered. Programs honor personal freedom and interests through a menu of life-long learning opportunities that serve a wide variety of learning styles, encourage personal inquiry, and provoke thought.
  • NPS programs are widely accessible. Programs provide learning opportunities, reflect and embrace different cultural backgrounds, ages, languages, abilities, and needs. Programs are delivered through a variety of means, including distance learning, to increase opportunities to connect with and learn from the resources.
  • NPS programs are based on sound scholarship, content methods and audience analysis. Programs are informed by the latest research related to natural and cultural heritage and incorporate contemporary education research and scholarship on effective interpretive and educational methods.
  • NPS programs help people understand and participate in our civil democratic society. Programs highlight the experiences, lessons, knowledge, and ideas embodied in America's national parks and other special places and provide life-long opportunities to engage in civic dialogue.
  • NPS programs incorporate ongoing evaluation for continual program improvement and effectiveness. Programs are regularly evaluated and improved to ensure that they meet program goals and audience needs.
  • NPS programs are collaborative. Where it furthers the NPS mission and is otherwise appropriate, programs are created in partnership with other agencies and institutions to achieve common goals.

(See Renewing Our Education Mission, and RM-6. Also see Director's Order #21: Donations and Fundraising)


5.1 General

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:

  • The long-range interpretive plan defining a 5- to 10-year vision for the park's program that addresses all media and personal services;
  • The annual implementation plan, charting the short-range actions which will achieve the long-range vision; and,
  • An interpretive database supporting the pursuit of that vision.

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:

6.1.1 Staffing of Visitor Centers and Contact Stations. Public use facilities will operate during times that serve most visitors during the day. Staff will be thoroughly familiar with the site and provide high-quality information and orientation services.

6.1.2 Informal Interpretation. An informal visitor contact is an encounter between a visitor and an interpreter in which the objectives are defined by the visitor's needs, rather than prepared by the interpreter in advance. Spontaneous interpretive contacts can also be initiated to provide opportunities to facilitate a connection between the interests of the visitors and the significance of parks. These encounters can take place at a variety of locations and can take a variety of forms, such as stationary and roving interpretation.

6.1.3 Formal Interpretation. Formal interpretive programs facilitate a connection between the interests of the visitors and the significance of the park. They must reflect current scholarship, cohesively develop a relevant idea, and provide the audience with opportunities to make their own intellectual and emotional connections to the meaning and significance of the resources relevant to the program. Programs must provide a desired visitor experience with measurable outcomes. Included in this category are conducted activities, talks, campfire programs, hikes, horseback tours, boat tours, cave tours, lectures, power point presentations and seminars.

6.1.4 Performing Arts and Demonstrations. Performing arts may include activities such as storytelling, poetry reading, dance, drama, music, concerts, art shows, or artists in parks. Demonstrations are pre-planned presentations designed to showcase a skilled process and include historical demonstrations, living history, scientific demonstrations, or recreation safety and skill demonstrations. Living history demonstrations use period reproduction clothing and objects to present impressions of the people, events, and practices of the past. Living history will not attempt literally to recreate the past, but will provide interpretive and educational impressions in as authentic a manner as possible.

(See sections 8.6, Cultural Demonstrators and 8.7, Historic Weapons below, and RM-6)

6.1.5 Junior Ranger Program. This program generally engages young people in age-appropriate activities that (1) allow them to discover the significance of a specific site, and (2) introduce them to the national park system and the mission of the National Park Service in order to cultivate a new generation of park stewards. Junior Ranger programs invite interactive participation by young people and provide a tangible memento of the young person's participation.

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:

  • Be relevant to park resources and interpretive themes;
  • Enhance school curricula;
  • Involve school teachers in planning and development of unit content and activities;
  • Include pre- and post-visit materials or activities; and,
  • Have methods and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

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

6.4.1 In General. Special events are allowed in accordance with 36 CFR 2.50 and 7.96(g), and section 8.6.2 of Management Policies. Special events such as pageants, anniversaries, dedications, festivals, and other observances are permitted when there is a meaningful connection between the park and the event; the observance contributes to public understanding of the park's significance or the significance of the national park system; and the event can be staged without unacceptable impact on the park's resources. Special events meeting these criteria generally enhance the relationship between the park and the community.

6.4.2 Food and Beverage at Special Events. Special events and presentations involving food or beverage preparation will meet all applicable State and Federal public health service standards. All parks must contact the regional public health office when considering special events or presentations that will involve food or beverage preparation and delivery.

(See Director's Order #53: Special Park Uses, for further information on special events)

6.5 Non-Personal Services

6.5.1 In General. Non-personal services are those that do not require the presence of staff. Non-personal services can address certain interpretive and educational opportunities more effectively than personal services. Media such as park brochures and other publications, museum and visitor center exhibits, wayside exhibits, and historic furnishings, web pages, audiovisual presentations, and radio information systems are all examples of non-personal services.

6.5.2 Electronic Interpretation and Education. The National Park Service has embraced the World Wide Web as a valuable and effective interactive tool for interpretation, education outreach, and worldwide distribution of National Park Service information. Each park will develop and maintain a park website to reach audiences outside the park. Park websites will comply with Director's Order #70: Internet and Intranet Publishing.

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:

  • Review the total interpretive program to ensure that a fee for service is appropriate;
  • Consider all other options and sources for the service such as existing concessioners, commercial operators, or cooperating associations;
  • Develop clear guidelines and standards against which quality of performance will be measured; and,
  • Consult all applicable NPS guidance documents, and review all applicable fee authorities before choosing the appropriate one.

(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)

8.4 Research

8.4.1 In General. Quality interpretive programs and media require sound research. The content of interpretive and educational services must be accurate, inclusive, respect multiple points of view and be free of cultural, ethnic, and personal biases. However, in accordance with section 7.5.5 of Management Policies, "[a]cknowledging multiple points of view does not require interpretive and educational programs to provide equal time, or to disregard the weight of scientific or historical evidence." Programs presented by cultural demonstrators should be introduced as clearly representing the particular culture being presented.

(See section 8.5, Consultation below)

8.4.2 Historical and Scientific Research. Superintendents, historians, scientists, and interpretive staff are responsible for ensuring that park interpretive and educational programs and media are accurate and reflect current scholarship. To accomplish this, an on-going dialogue must be established. Questions often arise round the presentation of geological, biological, and evolutionary processes. The interpretive and educational treatment used to explain the natural processes and history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism. The facts, theories, and interpretations to be used will reflect the thinking of the scientific community in such fields as biology, geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and paleontology. Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes. Programs, however, may acknowledge or explain other explanations of natural processes and events.

(See section 7.5.4 of Management Policies. Also see Director's Order #11B: Ensuring Quality of Information Disseminated by the National Park Service)

8.5 Consultation

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)

8.8 Re-enactments

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)


9.1 General

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)

9.4 Concessioners

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 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.

10.4 VIP Program Activity and Expense Report (Form 10-150)

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
Director's Order #7: Volunteers in Parks
Director's Order #11B: Ensuring Quality of Information Disseminated by the National Park Service
Director's Order #13A: Environmental Management Systems
Director's Order #20: Agreements
Director's Order #21: Donations and Fundraising
Director's Order #22: Recreation Fee Program
Director's Order #24: NPS Museum Collections Management
Director's Order #26: Youth Programs
Director's Order #32: Cooperating Associations
Director's Order #42: Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities in National Park Service Programs and Services
Director's Order #48A: Concession Management
Director's Order #48B: Commercial Use Authorizations
Director's Order #50B: Occupational Safety and Health Program
Director's Order #50C: Public Risk Management Program
Director's Order #52A: Communicating the National Park Service Mission
Director's Order #53: Special Park Uses
Director's Order #70: Internet and Intranet Publishing
Director's Order #75A: Civic Engagement and Public Involvement

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