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  • 22 June 2020 7:28 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    Hoy, PUP emitió una declaración (inglés y español) que conecta los problemas relacionados con las protestas internacionales provocadas por la muerte de George Floyd y su relación con la interpretación del patrimonio. La organización también aprobó la publicación de un ensayo (en inglés y español) del director de PUP Jon Kohl, titulado “Gestión integral del patrimonio: ¿Qué nos enseña el sitio de la muerte de George Floyd sobre la naturaleza del patrimonio y su papel en la sociedad?

  • 03 June 2020 7:01 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    PUP would like to congratulate its Mexican members, especially Dr. Antonieta Jiménez, member of PUP's board of directors, and Dr. Manuel Gándara, technical support member, for the newly established Mexican Association of Heritage Interpreters or InterpatMx. Antonieta serves as the new executive director and Manuel is the new president of the board of directors.

    This is the first interpretation association in Latin America, finally giving voice to the region among other associations in the world, principally in developed countries. The association was supported also by PUP advisor Dr. Sam Ham who receives a hearty acknowledgment on the home page as well as PUP director Jon Kohl who offers some words of encouragement. The association also received significant support from PUP partner, the National Association for Interpretation in the United States. PUP looks forward to healthy collaboration with InterpatMx in pursuit of the professionalization of this discipline in Latin America. See the website here and a blog in Spanish by Dr. Jiménez introducing the organization here.

    For more information go to the website's contact page.

  • 13 February 2020 3:50 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    PUP is very pleased to announce a couple of changes within PUP's leadership that occurred at yesterday's board meeting.

    1. The board elected Francisco Valenzuela to become the new board chair. Francisco joined the board in May of last year. He only just retired after a long and celebrated career at the USDA Forest Service on 31 December. Part of his retirement planning includes helping to lead PUP into the future. He replaced Executive Director Jon Kohl who served as interim chair since 11 December of last year when the former chair and current board member (serving his second term) Sherwood Shankland finished his term.

    2. The board also elected Dr. Alison Ormsby to become an advisor. Alison served as an inaugural board member and finished her term last year along with Shankland and now she transitions to a new role at the organization. She is currently a professor on a variety of conservation related topics (sacred sites, interpretation, community-based conservation) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

    PUP looks forward to welcoming them both as PUP grows stronger.

  • 09 August 2019 9:44 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    As with all volunteer organizations, there is a continual turnover of people. In this email I would like to update you on our latest changes.


    Francisco Valenzuela, Board Director

    I am very excited to present to you all Francisco Valenzuela who is now in the process of retiring from the US Forest Service as a recreation planner and promoter of research and new frameworks for visitor management. Francisco is a big thinker with so much experience in recreation management mostly in the US but also abroad. He is always in search of new and more effective ways of operating. In fact, he was also the first person to review the book by Steve McCool and myself, The Future Has Other Plans, which he did on his own. He has worked out of Washington DC, Albuquerque, New Mexico and calls Golden, Colorado home, which coincidentally also happens to be the city where our book was published and printed.


    Dr. Jessica Fefer, Vice President

    Until 31 July Laura Calandrella was our Vice President. She came on basically to do an analysis and advise us on how to deepen our strategic planning and identify our value proposition, a process that is now underway. We want to heartily thank Laura for stepping in and making this very important contribution.

    In her place Dr. Jessica Fefer steps. Jessica started as a general member, then become our Publications and Conferences Coordinator, then our annual report co-editor, and now is Vice President. Coincidental with her ascension to VP, she graduated her PhD program from Clemson University and was hired as an associate professor at Kansas State University where she has begun working alongside PUP members Dr. Ted Cable (retired), Dr. Ryan Sharp (who reviewed Steve and my book, The Future Has Other Plans), and in the same office where PUP member Marisol Mayorga is working on her doctoral research. I first met Jessica during her Master’s research at the University of Maine where she was conducting a Delphi study on the effectiveness of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum. She will be teaching park planning and interpretation at K-State, two themes closely aligned with PUP.


    Dr. Trace Gale, Secretary

    For more than a year Marina Rothberg has served as our enthusiastic board secretary AND PUP Notes Editor. But now that she prepares to attend Law school in a couple of months and is vacationing in Europe, so she has stepped down. It took two people to replace her. The first is Dr. Trace Gale, an established researcher and practitioner based in Chile. She directs the tourism research unit at the Center for Patagonia Ecotourism Studies and has specialized as of late in public use planning, which fits the PUP Consortium very well. She has also read Kohl and McCool’s The Future Has Other Plans. Fortunately, she already knows from prior work Steve McCool and Francisco Valenzuela. She will fit right in at PUP.


    Christine Hanna

    Christine will fill Marina’s other shoe as PUP Notes editor. Christine is Egyptian and lives in Cairo where she works for the World Food Programme. A couple of years ago she was the communications officer for UNESCO Viet Nam when Pham Huong, who is the culture officer, was a PUP board member. PUP Director Jon Kohl met her on a trip to Hanoi. Given her wide background in communications and development work and her perfect English, she will make the perfect PUP Notes editor.



    Dr. Jeremy Radachowsky and Dr. Bernal Herrera

    Both of these PUP advisors have been with PUP for quite a while. In fact, Bernal was at CATIE University when PUP was founded in 2013 and currently works on a condition-based zoning project with PUP in Costa Rica. Jeremy is a fell holistic thinker currently working with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Unfortunately, due to family and work obligations both will be stepping down as advisors. PUP wants to thank them for the work and support they showed PUP. We hope they stay on in some other fashion.


    We also reported a few weeks ago about Kirsten Clauer, our new webmaster.

  • 07 July 2019 9:44 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    El texto es una guía para los gestores culturales y profesionales en museos que están interesados en generar una mejor dinámica de trabajo así como experiencias gozosas y memorables para sus visitantes, a través de la Metodología de la Interpretación.

    Como su nombre lo indica la interpretación tiene como propósito ‘traducir’ el lenguaje especializado de los expertos a contenidos y mensajes que todas las personas podemos entender. Es una herramienta de comunicación que nos permite acercar a las personas al patrimonio natural, cultural e histórico. Su objetivo es revelar los significados y valores del patrimonio con el fin de conectarlos con las experiencias previas del público y provocar sentimientos que lo motiven a conservarlo y protegerlo.

    Dividido en cuatro secciones, el Manual de diseño y evaluación de la interpretación en los museos narra el proceso de planeación, diseño, evaluación y puesta en marcha de los recorridos desarrollados por los equipos de los museos para sus visitantes. Puede ser descargado en forma gratuita desde el sitio del Museo Laberinto de las Ciencias y las Artes:

    La edición digital del documento se logró gracias al apoyo de la Secretaría de Cultura, a través de una beca del Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA) y consigna el trabajo de los autores en tres recintos de la República Mexicana: Laberinto de las Ciencias y las Artes, el Museo Amparo en Puebla y el Museo Nacional de las Culturas del Mundo en la Ciudad de México.


    The text guides cultural managers and museum professionals interested in providing more joyful and memorable experiences for visitors with the use of interpretation.

    As the name indicates, interpretation translates specialized language of experts to content and messages that all people can understand. It is a communication tool that allows us to bring people closer to natural, cultural, and historical heritage. Its objective is to reveal heritage meanings and values to connect them with the public’s prior experiences and provoke feelings that motivate them to conserve and protect it.

    Divided into four sections, the Manual for the Design and Evaluation of Interpretation in Museums explains the process of planning, design, evaluation, and implementation of tours developed by museum teams for their visitors. It can be downloaded for free from the Labyrinth Museum of Science and Arts website:

    The digital edition was achieved thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture, through a grant from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts.

    Para mayor información/For more information:


  • 04 July 2019 6:24 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    Bogotá, Colombia 18-19 de junio

    Ninguna destreza podría ser más crítica a la interpretación temática de patrimonio que la elaboración de temas interpretativos fuertes. Esta premisa subraya la nueva guía de campo por director de PUP Jon Kohl, The Interpretive Theme Writer’s Field Guide: A Pocket Companion to Sam Ham’s Interpretation: Making a Difference on Purpose: How to Write a Strong Theme from Big Idea to Presentation, publicada por la Asociación Nacional para la Interpretación en los Estados Unidos en noviembre. Cuenta con contribuciones de miembros de PUP Dr. Sam Ham (primera palabra), Dr. Ted Cable (segunda palabra) y Clark Hancock (nota introductoria) (moderador de la página Facebook sobre elaboración de temas interpretativos). También contribuyó el guardaparque/intérprete del Servicio de Parques Nacionales de los Estados Unidos y autor destacado Shelton Johnson (presentación). Esta misma premisa también motivó la creación de la Guía de campo.

    PUP y su oficina nacional representante, la Organización para la Educación y Protección Ambiental (OpEPA), ofrecieron un curso de 2 días para 22 personas provenientes de Bogotá, Manizales, la Amazonía, Boyacá y otros lados de Colombia. Enfocó en cómo los temas funcionan en las mentes de la audiencia, por qué los temas desempeñan un papel tan importante para la interpretación, cómo los escritores desarrollan Grandes Ideas y luego elaborarlas en temas finales, tan provocativos y fácil de leer como sea posible. La Guía de campo y el curso ambos reconocen que también los equipos y las comunidades pueden elaborar temas.

    Cada estudiante realizó ejercicios prácticos en ambos días y también un proyecto final entregado después del curso. Era un tema fuerte acompañado por una narrativa que lo defendía como fuerte según los criterios definidos en la Guía de campo.

    Jon Kohl ha escrito extensamente sobre temas, impartido cursos sobre la interpretación y, junto con el asistente del curso Carlos Rosero de OpEPA (y enlace con PUP), innovó la metodología para la elaboración del marco interpretativo la que facilita un taller de dos días con miembros de la comunidad alrededor de un área de patrimonio para crear temas interpretativos, procesos universales, elementos de patrimonio y esencia para el área en cuestión. Esta metodología ha sido adoptada por los Parques Nacionales de Colombia.

    Luego, Kohl impartirá el mismo curso otra vez en español junto al miembro institucional de PUP, la Reserva Biológica Tirimbina en Costa Rica a mediados de septiembre. En octubre, ofrecerá el mismo curso sobre cuatro sesiones en línea y luego en inglés. Todos los cursos se basan en materiales y ejemplos de la Guía de campo. La Asociación Nacional para la Interpretación publicará una adaptación Kindle en español en 2020.

    Para mayor información: u
  • 04 July 2019 6:18 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    Bogotá, Colombia 18-19 June 2019

    No skill may be more central to heritage, thematic interpretation than writing strong interpretive themes. This premise underlies PUP director Jon Kohl’s new field guide, The Interpretive Theme Writer’s Field Guide: A Pocket Companion to Sam Ham’s Interpretation: Making a Difference on Purpose: How to Write a Strong Theme from Big Idea to Presentation, published by the National Association for Interpretation in November with contributions from PUP members Dr. Sam Ham (First Word), Dr. Ted Cable (Last Word), and Clark Hancock (Note) (moderator of the Interpretive Theme Writing Think Tank), as well as from US National Park Service Ranger and acclaimed author/poet Shelton Johnson (forward). It is also the premise that motivated the first course based on the field guide.

    PUP and its national office representative in Colombia, the Organizational for Educational and Environmental Protection (OpEPA), offered a two-day course to 22 people from Bogotá, Manizales, Amazonía, Boyacá, and other parts of Colombia. It focused on how themes operate in the mind of audiences, why they play such a critical role to interpretation, how writers develop Big Ideas, and then craft them into final themes, as provocative and easy to read as possible. The Field Guide and course also recognize that teams and even communities can develop themes as well.

    Each student did practical work on both days as well as a final project delivered later which entails creating a theme and writing a narrative defense of why the theme is strong based criteria in the Field Guide.

    Jon Kohl has written widely on theme writing, taught it during interpretation courses, and along with course assistant Carlos Rosero of OpEPA (and country liaison to PUP), innovated the community-based interpretive framework methodology which facilitates a two-day workshop with community members around a heritage area to create interpretive themes, universal processes, heritage elements, and essence for the area in question. This methodology has been adopted by the Colombian National Parks.

    Subsequently Kohl will be offering the course again in Spanish in Costa Rica with PUP organizational member Tirimbina Biological Reserve at the end of August followed by a four-session, four-week online version of the course in Spanish in October and later in English. All courses rely on materials and examples from the Field Guide. The National Association for Interpretation will publish a Spanish Kindle adaptation in 2020.

    For more information write or

  • 04 June 2019 8:13 PM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    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

  • 22 May 2019 9:47 AM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

    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 and send any suggestions for improvement to


  • 18 September 2018 1:31 PM | Deleted user


    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.

    For more information visit

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