Pre-Conference Sessions

Monday–Tuesday (two-day sessions) or Tuesday (one-day sessions)

Logged in users will be able to see how many spaces are available in each event.


Interpreting Salmon: A Travel Extravaganza!

2.5-Day Offsite Tour
Seattle to Spokane, Sunday–Tuesday

What are salmon doing in the desert? Cut across the state of Washington from the lush green banks of salty Puget Sound, over the rugged Cascade Mountains, to the scoured basalt of the sagebrush steppe, to discover how salmon tie these radically different landscapes together. Explore how the story of salmon is interpreted in diverse places and cultures.

Spend three days learning how salmon are central to the history and economy of Washington while examining different methods of connection. Your guides are professional interpreters who will take you to a variety of interpretive sites, from museums to hatcheries to cultural centers, en route from Seattle to Spokane.

Our trip will start in Seattle on Sunday, November 12, and end in Spokane on Tuesday, November 14, in time for NAI Conference kickoff. Registration costs include lodging for Monday night in Leavenworth. Participants will be responsible for booking their own hotel room in Seattle on Sunday. Tour guides will provide information for suggested hotels. Some meals will be provided.


Start tour the Sunday prior to the conference in Seattle. This gives folks time to arrive on Saturday, and if they run into issues and miss Sunday, they can still catch the bus on Monday. On this day, we will be on foot. Stops:
•    Pike Place Market, 11:00am
•    Lunch on your own in the market
•    Seattle Aquarium, 1:30–4:30pm
•    Group dinner

On Monday, we’ll head east by bus and stay the night in Leavenworth in a hotel where we’ve gotten a group rate. Stops include:
•    Breakfast on your own. Meet at Sea-Tac Airport to catch the van.
•    Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
•    Boxed lunch provided
•    Cashmere Museum
•    Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and Mid-Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
•    Lodging in Leavenworth
•    Dinner on your own

On Tuesday, continue east, arriving in Spokane in the evening.
•    Breakfast at the hotel. Meet at the hotel to catch the van.
•    Rocky Reach Dam
•    Boxed lunch provided
•    Wanapum Heritage Center
•    Arrive in Spokane in time for the conference kickoff

Trip Leaders:
Julia Pinnix, Information and Education Manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex
Marjorie Lodwick, Park Ranger, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex

Cost: $350/Single, $320/Double
Maximum Number of Participants: 12
Minimum Number of Participants: 8

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Interpreter’s Road Show

Join us on the Interpreter’s Road Show in Spokane! NAI’s Nature Center Directors and Administrators Section will be visiting the Dishman Hills Natural Area (pictured), Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and Mobius Science Center. This professional development opportunity will explore how these organizations manage volunteers, programs, building and facility development, habitat restoration, funding, unique partnerships, creative new exhibits, and much more. Participants will have the time to network with their peers during meals and travel time between locations. This opportunity is open to all interpreters and provides a unique look at a variety of interpretive properties.

All transportation, lunch both days, and dinner Monday night are included in this trip. There will be no off-site, overnight lodging during this trip. The bus will pick you up at the conference’s host hotel, the Davenport Grand, each morning. To ensure that you get the conference rate, please visit NAI’s website to book your hotel rooms!

Trip Leader: Brian Thill, Director of Education, South Carolina Aquarium,
Cost: $290
Time: 8:00am–5:30pm each day
Bus: Departs Davenport Grand
Maximum Number of Participants: 24
Minimum Number of Participants: 15
Meals Included: Monday/Tuesday boxed lunch. Monday dinner
Hotel Rooms: Not provided
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Interpreting Climate Change

Understand the Science, Consider Audience Characteristics, and Explore Effective Techniques

Interpreting climate change can be challenging—it’s a complex topic, and audiences may respond on a wide variety of emotional and intellectual levels. Earth to Sky workshops provide a collegial environment for joining interpreters and NASA scientists and education specialists to learn from each other about climate science and communication. This two-day workshop will cover basics of global climate change science and explore techniques for addressing this subject with a variety of audiences, including youth. Abundant interpretive, education, and scientific resources will be provided to support participants in developing an outline for using workshop content in interpretation efforts at their own location.

We’ll spend the first day at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, where we’ll learn first hand from the staff about the refuge, their audiences and environmental education programs, and the impacts climate change is having on refuge resources. NASA science presenters will link local and regional impacts with global climate processes and describe some of the latest findings in climate research; participants will consider how they would communicate climate to the general public in their own setting. Results from recent social science research and example climate change interpretive products and techniques drawn from the Earth to Sky NPS-NASA-USFWS partnership ( will inform discussions about the most useful interpretive techniques for various audiences.

Presenters: Anita Davis, John Morris, Ruth Paglierani, Amanda Schramm
Cost: $195
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 20
Minimum Number of Participants: 12
Meals: Monday offsite boxed lunches provided. Tuesday onsite lunch and morning break
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Small Group Process & Facilitation Skills

Groups and teams can be frustrating and difficult, often ending with participants stating, “What did we accomplish?” and “We never seem to reach a decision.” Facilitation techniques are tools that can be practiced to increase the inclusivity, effectiveness, efficiency, and collaborative decision-making within working groups. This in-depth, hands-involved training will equip participants with the protocols, tools, and practice to facilitate working groups to achieve desired outcomes within their professional level of experience. This workshop includes facilitation practice with real-time opportunities. These tools can be used in program and strategic planning, setting priorities, decision-making, and team development.

Presenter: Corky McReynolds, PhD, Founder and Principle of LeadTeam Consulting
Cost: $195
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 18
Minimum Number of Participants: 8
Meals: Lunch and morning break included
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Interpreting Native Culture and History

This session will address:

  • How to respectfully present information and programs about the culture and history of Native people.
  • Storytelling by a Native storyteller with follow-up discussion on how to use stories to share important principals about Native people and how to respectfully seek permission to tell a story that is not from your heritage.
  • As an agency, how to work with associated tribes and have tribal members present your programs.
  • How to deal diplomatically with incorrect information about Native people without insulting your audience.

Participants will learn how to:

  • Properly seek permission to tell a Native story that is not their own.
  • How to share information about Native people in a respectful way.
  • How to use stories and the Native way of learning to teach children about Native culture and history.
  • How to deal diplomatically with incorrect information about Native people.
  • Network with other interpreters who will share insights about their approach to interpreting Native culture and history.
  • How to have tribal members present programs to tell their own stories.

Handouts will be provided electronically.

Gail Barels, Linn County Conservation Department
Marisol Asselta Castro, Interpretive Director, Jane Goodall Institute
Kathleen Durfee, Manager, Coeur d’Alene Old Mission State Park, Idaho
Cost: $125
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 30
Minimum Number of Participants: 10
Meals: Lunch and morning coffee break included

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Essentials of Interpretive Writing

The ability to write clear, concise texts to advance a goal is an essential skill. Interpretive writers must be aware of how to attracts readers’ attention and keep it. Writers must acknowledge who their audience members are and their reading/comprehension abilities, and develop a concise narrative. This session is a hands-on display of the tenets of interpretive writing as they apply to all media.

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:
1.     Eliminate tired, out-of-date words and jargon from their writing
2.     Know the words that work
3.     List three key questions to answer before they begin writing
4.     Understand a systematic way to organize even the most complex writing tasks
5.     Identify the five elements of interpretive writing
6.     Be able to use personal style to make their writing more interesting
7.     Assess the quality of interpretive writing
8.     Use action verbs
9.     List the five elements of interpretive writing
10.    Infuse rich language into your interpretive writing projects.

Presenter: Alan Leftridge
Cost: $125
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 30
Minimum Number of Participants: 10
Meals: Lunch and morning coffee break included
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Reflecting on Practice Blended Coaching Workshop

As an interpreter, have you ever thought about how people learn? Or how knowing this can create better opportunities for your messages to get across? If so, then this workshop is for you! Join this kickoff of the blended version of the Reflecting on Practice™ (RoP) Coaching Workshop to talk and engage in activities with other interpreters about current research in how learning happens. Following the workshop, continue the conversations with colleagues in six online sessions and become an RoP Facilitator. You’ll dive into ways you can support learning within the visitor experiences you create, and share strategies with colleagues for transforming practice at your site.

RoP is a professional learning program for educational professionals in informal learning institutions, such as botanical gardens, national parks, nature centers, and zoos. The program immerses interpreters and educators in discussions about, reflections on, and applications of research and theory on learning and teaching.

Benefits of attending our workshop include:

  • an in-person, one-day experience at the NAI National Conference
  • become familiar with the philosophy and design of the Reflecting on Practice program, including experiencing several of the activities and discussions from the program
  • connect with other RoP Facilitators from around the country
  • continue to meet, after the conference, for six additional online sessions to integrate your evolving understanding of learning into your practice to become an RoP Facilitator
  • receive the comprehensive written Reflecting on Practice curriculum and supporting materials

Following the blended program (consisting of the one-day workshop and six online sessions), RoP Facilitators implement the program with educators at their institution, at their own pace, over a period of six to 12 months, continuing to broaden their own practice as they go through the program with colleagues.

Lynn Tran is Research Director with the Learning and Teaching Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley; Director of the Reflecting on Practice program; and Co-Director of the Transforming STEM Teaching Faculty Learning Program. Her work focuses on the science teaching practices of nonformal educators and university faculty.

Catherine Halversen is Senior Project Director with the Learning and Teaching Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley; Director of the Transforming STEM Teaching Faculty Learning Program; and Co-Director of the Reflecting on Practice program. Her work focuses on developing and disseminating in-person and online professional learning programs.

Facilitators: Lynn Tran, PhD; Catherine Halversen
Cost: $125
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 20
Minimum Number of Participants: 10
Meals: Lunch and morning coffee break included

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Keep that Cutting Edge: Illuminating Interpretive Facilitation

This preworkshop is designed to provide interpretive trainers a venue for new ideas, best practices, methods, and techniques used in the Certified Interpretive Guide course. Whether you are a new trainer looking to help illuminate interpretation for students or an experienced trainer seeking fresh ways to enhance and brighten up your course design; we’ve got the sparks for you! Join this pre-conference workshop and together we will highlight activities and lesson plans/course agendas.

Sarena has been a member of NAI since 2008 and a CIGT/CIT since September 2014. She currently works as the Community Outreach Manager for the Phoenix Zoo/Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and is also holds adjunct professor status at Miami University.

Kevin has worked within the Guest Experience Division at Monterey Bay Aquarium for the past 15 years and has a passion for training. He has been a Certified Interpretive Trainer since 2009 and taught the CIG or CIH course for a variety of agencies over the years.

This session is open to all CIG instructors.

Facilitators: Kevin Wright, Sarena Randall Gill
Cost: $45
Time: 8:00am–5:00pm
Maximum Number of Participants: 25
Minimum Number of Participants: 15
Meals: Lunch and morning coffee break included

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2017 NAI National Conference

Spokane, Washington

November 14-18, 2017



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