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Site Research and Relevance

Competency Description

In-depth knowledge of park resources underpins the role of the interpreter and educator. Seen as trusted sources of balanced information, interpreters and educators convey complex historical and scientific content to diverse audiences. But beyond conveying complex concepts, interpreters and educators also help reveal the evolving relevance of park resources. By collaboratively exploring the current lessons of our national heritage, interpreters and educators help people make sense of their world and connect to nature and the past. Therefore, in-depth knowledge requires two interdependent areas of investigation:

Researching resources refers to compiling the scientific or historical consensus, or tangible evidence of a site, also known as the forensic truth. It also refers to researching the stories of a site, or the collective narratives that give the place its national significance. Both require actively pursuing, evaluating, and collaboratively synthesizing resource knowledge from a variety of sources.

Discovering relevance refers to the continuous exploration of evolving meanings within a site. This requires investigating the associated relationships, systems, processes, human values, and alternate intangible meanings of a site. It requires uncovering personal truths, or how a person lives through and remembers an event or experience; as well as the current social truths that represent a group’s communal understanding of concepts or events.

Researching a site’s resources and relevance is not limited by time period, enabling legislation, or geographic scope. It is enriched by a site’s evolving historical, scientific, and social contexts, including how preservation and resource management may have changed it. This knowledge must be gathered from a broad community of differing perspectives. Agency investigation, community collaboration, and visitor input all contribute to the rich body of content.

Competency Standard

Interpreters and Educators:

  • Compile scientific and/or historical research from a variety of sources
  • Critically evaluate sources for their relevance, validity, and bias
  • Collaborate with others (colleagues, partners, academics, community members, and audiences) to synthesize and interpret evidence-based content, site stories, and current social context
  • Represent current NPS perspectives, as well as scientific and historical consensus, about site resources and issues
  • Reveal a variety of personal and social truths pertaining to park resources (through research or techniques)
  • Continuously incorporate and amplify new and historically excluded perspectives to broaden the inclusivity of a place and its meanings

Download the 2018 revision of the foundations document: Foundations of Interpretation – Competencies for the 21st Century 2018 [PDF]

Training Resources

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  1. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I was not able to see the full report of the ” Imperiled Promise Report” . The Competencies are well played out in the Foundations of Interpretation. the descriptions and standards are well aligned and clearly stated. It is a great resource for someone learning to become an interpreter. There is such a large scope of skills and interests for anyone to find something that would fit a persons choice to participate in the program. Knowing that I am striving to achieve the later portion of this class, I am overwhelmed with information, specifics, standards, competencies, and planning not to mention the research that is required to even think of what to pick before you get to thinking of a lesson plan. I taught special education for 23 years and had to make individual lesson plans to meet each students individual Education Plan. I thought at times that was overwhelming. It was pages and pages for each subject matter. This is by far and away much more to consider and to plan in advance and this all comes after the research portion.

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