South Central Region
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Rebecca’s first got bit by the interpretation bug during her undergraduate at Kansas State University. Soon after, she earned her first CIG with Ted Cable and set out to explore the field. Her work has included outdoor schools in California, North Cascades National Park, and science and nature centers. She has created professional development opportunities for both co-workers and area teachers, and has recently completed the coursework for Train-the-Trainer.
Rebecca took on the role of Region VI Scholarship and Professional Development Chair two years ago, where she takes joy in helping students and members attend workshops and trainings. She developed new Professional Development scholarships to expand the opportunities including sending members to the National Conference. She has presented sessions at multiple Regional Workshops, and recently presented her first webinar through the national office.
Rebecca’s passion is to provide meaningful and enjoyable experiences with the natural world. She strives to do this through work by creating events and educational opportunities to bring families closer to nature.
Chief of Interpretation & Program Services
Arkansas State Parks
Little Rock, Arkansas
Kelly Farrell has worked for Arkansas State Parks since 1999, beginning her career as a s season interpreter at Lake Ouachita, followed by five years as a full-time interpreter at DeGray Lake Resort State Park. There, she coordinated park programming, organized special events, and created in-park and out-of-park programs for park visitors and the community.
Kelly then served eight years as statewide field interpreter. In this role, she traveled the state to offer advice, coaching, and mentoring to the 70 or so full-time and seasonal park interpreters across the state. Her work as field interpreter alongside Jay Miller (former Chief of Interpretation and Program Services for Arkansas State Parks) produced many innovations in the way this department trains its interpretive staff. She worked with Jay to bring NAI's Certified Interpretive Guide curriculum to every interpreter hired into our agency.
Kelly was promoted in 2013 to her current position of Chief of Interpretation and Program Services. This position pulls Kelly into the administrative world. The "non-personnel" interpretation that she provides includes supervising the internal exhibit shop. She plays a major role in working with exhibit design firms to plan visitor center exhibits. Kelly supervises a staff of artists (all of whom have gone through the CIG curriculum at her request) who produce brochures and flyers, wayside exhibit panels, and trailhead signs. She has developed a new system to streamline this process and make it more efficient for all involved.
As a manager of interpretation Kelly works every day to keep interpretation at the forefront of the minds of other section managers. She encourages them during meetings and to keep these in mind when making decisions concerning parks. She is a true champion for frontline interpreters across the state.
Kelly is an active member of NAI. She is past director of Region 6, and has served on the national board. She is a frequent contributor to NAI's Legacy magazine. She has presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and can be found almost any week of the year promoting NAI in some form or fashion. When unable to attend a conference, Kelly presses upper management to send as many representatives from Arkansas State Parks as she can.
Visitor Center Manager
Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center
- Wrote the book “Show-Me Herps” for the MO Department of Conservation while still working a full 40-hour work week -7-days a week schedule in 2008. The book won a national 3rd place in the book division from the Association of Conservation Information in 2010.
- Is both a Manager and Front-line Interpreter; Shares weekend front desk duty with staff and volunteers; has worked 500 Saturdays and 500 Sundays over the last 19 years.
- Takes photos of all activities, concurrent sessions, and awards at the annual Region 6 Workshops; shares all photos with the workshop committee and hosts.
- After a being the NAI National Awards Chairman for 5 years (2006-2010), volunteered to step back into that position for 2 years while the new chairman served our country in the National Guard in the war in the Middle East (2013 & 2014).
- Proudly served on the NAI National Board of Directors for 6 years (2011 – 2016).
- Promotes anti-litter with a famous red-eared slider turtle named Peanut. The story of Peanut (found with a 6-pack ring around it’s deformed shell in St. Louis in 1993) has spread around the world. Efforts to promote this turtle and anti-litter have resulted in personal connections in The Netherlands, Singapore, and the island nation of Curacao.
- Personally welcomes visitors to his facility at the front desk; has personally welcomed the 6 millionth, 7, millionth, and 8* millionth visitor to the facility. *Took place on July 19, 2018.
- Became a trainer for the Certified Interpretive Guide in 2006. Helped the MO Department of Natural Resources to adopt the CIG format for annual seasonal training; 10-15 students become CIG each year.
- Coordinated Branson’s first Blue Star Memorial which honors ALL VETERANS. The focus of the memorial highlights native plants and landscaping techniques.
- Has been a mentor for 10 summer interns in the past 15 years. 7 of the 10 interns have gone on to full-time employment and 4 of them in the interpretive field.
- Volunteers at National and Region 6 Workshops to be the scholarship auction volunteer.
Interpretive Programs Manager
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
Wren Smith is an interpreter. She is also a seeker, a finder, a teacher, and a student. No matter where she is or who she is with, Wren is in a constant state of cultivating the magic that comes from living a life connected to nature.
One doesn’t receive the nickname “Mother Nature” by casually connecting to the natural world around them.
Wren’s official title is “Interpretive Programs Manager”, but her role goes far beyond that. She is a living field guide and a breathing book of folklore. Her desk is a curated museum of other people’s “What is it’s?”. Wren is an advocate for Interpretation in all aspects of life. She leads programs on awareness for yoga groups and tree identification for engineers. Fully engaging all the senses, the connections and familiarity that Wren shares with others create learning that lasts a lifetime.
Although Wren is a highly regarded (and award-winning) interpreter, she doesn’t keep her skills and knowledge to herself. Through an innovative and renowned Naturalist in Training program, Wren has cultivated a deep pool of well-informed and highly enthusiastic Naturalists that are integral to the success of Bernheim’s mission to “Connect People with Nature”
On top of the things she does locally through her work at Bernheim, Wren has also changed the lexicon of Interpretation through published articles and professional lectures as well as her myriad CIG trainings that educate and inspire current and future interpreters. Wren is truly a shining star whose light warms and informs and makes the world a better place.