Mission, Vision, and Core Values

Land Acknowledgement
The National Association for Interpretation acknowledges, with respect, that our headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado, is located on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. This was also a site of trade, gathering, and healing for numerous other Native tribes. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original and current stewards of this land and all the relatives within it. As these words of acknowledgment are spoken and heard, the ties Nations have to their traditional homelands are renewed and reaffirmed.


At its annual summer meeting in August 2021, NAI’s Board of Directors approved a new definition of the term INTERPRETATION. This is the culmination of more than three years of diligent work by NAI's Definition Taskforce, chaired by NAI Fellow Theresa Coble, Ph.D, which gathered feedback from hundreds of members of the profession and processed an immense amount of data to arrive at the statement below, which now serves as the association’s officially recognized definition:

Interpretation is a purposeful approach to communication that facilitates meaningful, relevant, and inclusive experiences that deepen understanding, broaden perspectives, and inspire engagement with the world around us.


Inspiring leadership and excellence to advance heritage interpretation as a profession.


NAI is the recognized voice of interpretation.


  • Provide opportunities for professional development of individual members.
  • Strengthen and support academic programs.
  • Provide opportunities for growth of the profession.
  • Develop multiple communication strategies to keep members informed about the organization’s operations.
  • Preserve the history of the organization.
  • Improve existing programs, products, and services.
  • Provide a meaningful structural framework for operation of regions, sections, and chapters.
  • Encourage cultural and professional diversity among membership.
  • Improve brand identity of organization.
  • Promote financial stability through fundraising and thoughtful fiscal management and oversight.
  • Encourage ongoing board training and development opportunities.
  • Promote leadership development and opportunities.
  • Use integrated planning approach for strategic planning to address specific issues, long-range planning, and annual business planning.

Core Values

  • We believe that interpretation is important in accomplishing the missions of our members’ organizations.
  • We believe that professional development builds stronger organizations and more capable professionals.
  • We value the biodiversity and cultural diversity of the planet.
  • We connect people with their cultural and natural heritage to promote stewardship of resources.
  • We believe that interpretation is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the resource.
  • We believe in responsible business management that supports healthy environmental practices to the greatest extent possible in all aspects of NAI operations.

Telling Everyone’s Story: NAI’s Commitment to Diversity

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) is dedicated to advancing the profession of heritage interpretation. Interpreters are the keepers, tellers, and facilitators of stories for our natural and cultural resources. As such, interpreters hold a tremendous responsibility to really understand the stories that are told and to richly represent all people, all backgrounds, and all perspectives.

At NAI, we are passionate about supporting those who interface with the public to understand the value of our shared natural and cultural heritage. When interpreters represent a diverse range of experiences, individually and collectively we are better able to understand and meet the needs and perspectives of site visitors. 

Read the full NAI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement.