Advancing Holistic Heritage Management
View of Arenal Volcano as seen from the hanging bridges of Mistico Park.
May 14. Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) student Olivia Parrott presented her study results to Mistico Park staff in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. She tested a new assessment tool to diagnose how well a work environment might support its tour guides after they finish a training on heritage interpretation.
Since 1964 ACM has sent undergraduates from 14 small liberal arts colleges to Costa Rica for a semester study abroad in a variety of majors. This spring Parrott, a junior from Lake Forest College, worked with her advisor and PUP executive director Jon Kohl to test a new approach that uses a holistic, integral perspective to qualify a work environment as to how supportive it may be for guides who would have graduated from an intensive interpretive training.
Olivia presents her results to Mistico staff
PUP has been training interpretive guides since 1997 when Kohl worked for RARE Center for Tropical Conservation. Since that time, PUP has been applying a more holistic approach to training, first during the training itself and now it has focused on the work environment as well. The premise is that too often people are trained and then return to their work environment where they meet resistance to change and lose new-found enthusiasm and knowledge.
Kohl comments, “The former Vice President of Leadership Development and Chief Learning Officer for General Electric Steve Kerr, famously summed up the problem, ‘The golden rule of organizational development is never send a changed person back to an unchanged environment. Yet 99% of training breaks this rule.’ We decided to do some literature research and then see if Mistico was ready to take back guides trained in interpretation with the PUP Consortium.”
Mistico Park is a family-owned business most famous for its hanging bridges that overlook Arenal Volcano in the heart of Costa Rica’s adventure tourism country. The park only opened in 2014 and invested heavily in infrastructure. Now the company is turning toward investment in its people and seeks the highest quality performance. For this reason, it will be conducting an extensive interpretation training with the PUP Consortium not only for its guides but for the entire company, again, looking at performance enhancement through a holistic lens.
Under Kohl’s guidance, Parrott applied an objective checklist of items that a work environment could have, such as a training program, performance incentives, written contracts with clear performance expectations, etc. that would support the application of interpretive guiding. She also conducted interviews of all guides and senior staff to better understand their perspective on guiding and interpretation and how well their culture supports such an approach. Last, she evaluated the guides to see if they were applying interpretive techniques in their tours. In her presentation, she made several recommendations that the company might consider before beginning the process of training in heritage interpretation.
Tourists take a selfie on one of Mistico’s bridges.
For more information
After three years using a WordPress website, PUP decided to migrate and create a new website within the Wild Apricot membership software ecosystem (where you are currently viewing this press release). Given that its website was volunteer-operated, both the security concerns and the lower quality design convinced PUP to migrate its website into a service for which it was already paying.
PUP director Jon Kohl says, “Though Wild Apricot is not as flexible as Wordpress with its innumerable plug-ins, the Wild Apricot environment is safer, easier to use, and has paid technical assistance. It also integrates better with our membership services. In the end it was a no-brainer.”
PUP is building out the new website in phases. Given its limited resources and its need to hire an outside consultant (whom by the way is the son-in-law of an existing PUP member), Phase I only contains the essentials. PUP is now conducting an in-house fundraising campaign to finance Phase II of its website build out and is currently writing a priority list of new pages and functionality. It hopes to accomplish this over the next three or four months.
Please check out www.pupconsortium.net and send any suggestions for improvement to email@example.com.
Congress co-organizers PUP Global Heritage Consortium and the Colegio de Michoacán of Mexico are pleased to announce keynote speakers Drs. Sam Ham and Manuel Gandara Vazquez to speak at the First Latin American Congress for Heritage Interpretation 23-25 October 2018.
Dr. Gándara, full-time professor of museology and interpretation at the National School for Conservation, Restauration, and Museography, part of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City has long been regarded as one of the leading experts and promoters of heritage interpretation in Mexico. He holds two doctorates in anthropology and design and new technologies from the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco, respectively. He currently serves at the Graduate Program in Museum Studies and specializes in the application of new technology and communication strategies in museums. Dr. Gándara is a technical service member of the PUP Consortium.
Dr. Sam Ham is widely regarded as one of the principal promoters of thematic interpretation, having earned his doctorate in Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences from the University of Idaho. For many years he served as a professor of communication psychology, sustinable tourism, and international conservation at the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources. During that time, he developed a process to conduct heritage interpretation captured in over 400 publications and two widely acclaimed books on the topic. He has worked extensively throughout Latin America during his years of service. Today he is a professor emeritus as well as advisor for the PUP Consortium.
Dr. Gándara will give the inaugural address and Dr. Ham will offer the final words about interpretation in Latin America during the conference that will take place the third week of October. The congress will be transmitted from seven locations in five countries through the Internet: National School of Conservation, Restauration, and Museography (Mexico City), National School of Higher Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Morelia); University of Costa Rica in Grecia, Tropical Science Center in San José, Costa Rica; University del Valle in Guatemala City; Scientific University of the South in Lima, Perú; and National Learning Service training centers in Bogotá and Medellin, Colombia.
Dr. Antonieta Jiménez, professor of archeology and interpretation at the Colegio de Michoacán and M.Sc. Jon Kohl, executive director of the PUP Consortium are coordinating an organizing committee to realize this first Congress.
PUP Director Jon Kohl signed a contract with the National Association for Interpretation’s executive director Margo Carlock on 28 June to publish InterpPress’s next book. The book is tentatively titled The Interpretive Theme Writer’s Field Guide: Pocket Companion to Sam Ham’s Interpretation — Making A Difference on Purpose: Crafting Strong Themes from Big Idea to Presentation.
The theme-writing book will carry a special recognition to the PUP Global Heritage Consortium because of PUP’s many material contributions to the book as well as contributions from several PUP members including Kohl (author), PUP advisor Sam Ham (authorized the use of his name as the Field Guide builds on his legacy of thematic interpretation; Ham also reviewed the text and wrote an introductory note), PUP Treasurer Clark Hancock wrote an introductory note and reviewed the text, as well as PUP general member Dr. Ted Cable who wrote the Last Word. Also, the Field Guide’s foreword is written by the well-known National Park Service Yosemite interpretive ranger and author Shelton Johnson.
The purpose of the Field Guide is to be a user-friendly how-to theme-writing guide that complements the theoretical and practical foundation laid down by Ham in his two books on interpretation. It will be the first book in the interpretation literature dedicated solely to the most central skill of thematic interpretation. Another first, according to Kohl, is that the book not only describes how individuals write themes (which is the level where most other interpretive literature focuses) but how groups and communities can also develop themes about their heritage.
PUP and NAI plan to launch the theme-writing book in time for the next NAI national conference in New Orleans at the end of November when Kohl will offer a conference presentation on the book.
InterpPress is NAI’s own press and has published other interpretation-related books such as Interpretation by Design, Interpretive Writing, Management of Interpretive Sites, Personal Interpretation, among others.
Kohl has published over 35 articles in all of NAI’s various publications including an article on applying the interpretive principle of TORE (developed by Ham) to resume writing in the most recent issue of NAI’s flagship publication, Legacy magazine.
Seven institutions in five countries are organizing the First Latin American Congress for Heritage Interpretation which will take place 23–25 October 2018. The Congress will be a virtual teleconference for which each country will provide one or two transmitting locations.
Speakers will give live presentations at these locations which will be retransmitted simultaneously to all across the Congress’s Internet hub at the El Colegio de Michoacán in Morelia, Mexico. Each site will have a live audience that can interact with speakers while anyone in the world can follow the Congress from a web interface on their own devices. Inscription is mandatory, but free starting on 15 June.
PUP Global Heritage Consortium is a tax-deductible 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization
© PUP Global Heritage Consortium 2020