This historic island across the harbor from New York City brings to life another era with its historic fort and military base. Many visitors to the island are coming for a "day in the park" and interpreters are challenged with how to inspire and engage learning about the historic depth the site holds. With a staff that had a diversity of knowledge, background and experience, we focused this one-day training as an opportunity to boost creative thinking, team-build and see the familiar through new eyes.

Participant Feedback

See through new eyes

“Made me see things in a different way."
"Sensory in the field helped to connect to the island in a different way."
"Doing the “Character in You” helped me to put on the shoes of a character I am interpreting."

Develop and Deliver Well Balanced Programs

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"This is a great look at a way of organizing and thinking about developing a program.”
"New approaches to organizing programs"
"Learning about program structure, how to create a skeleton for future programs"
" The importance of the art of storytelling"
"Gained techniques about storytelling"
“As a seasonal employee , not doing this year round, this opportunity allowed for some polishing of old skills and gather new point of views on interpretation.”

Next Steps

"Incorporate and Q & A section pertaining to civil war era: How does a nation prepare for war?”
“I am inspired to covey a more enthusiastic story.”
"To connect with visitors. Ask better questions.”
“Work more on connecting to the present.”
“Increasing my energy, especially when I feel it being low.”

 

Feedback session following training

"About a week or so out, after we opened, I asked my lead ranger what people what their walk-away impression was (I wanted to stay out of the process, I didn't want anyone trying to please me) . What did they really remember the most or what did they find most useful? In that crowd, you got my best thinker and my best "feeler" which I thought was really cool."  Chief of Interpretation, Governors Island, NY

Gained new techniques

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"Erica Wheeler's presentation was very insightful. At first her methods seemed unorthodox, but the more she explained the more I began to connect. The most impressive presentation me was Erica's character development, and the exercising of our senses program. Living in a city I tend to neglect and block certain senses; the exercise helped me strengthen and stay in touch with them."

"Having her visit was helpful; personally to those of us less experience with interpretations. I now know how to better connect and interact with my audience, and I believe that her teachings will help me with my programs for this summer. After doing a few tours, it became very evident to me and others how I was already applying what she taught us."

Tell more stories, less facts

"Staff development is a good thing and skills can always be improved.  What I came away with most particularly from Ms. Wheeler's presentation was the importance of making a program enjoyable by telling a story."

"I was inspired by Erica Wheeler in many ways because I'm a lot like her. The main thing is to tell stories instead of facts."

"Facts and figures are helpful props but, in most cases, I believe that people visiting our park simply want to be entertained.  And while I don't plan to walk around Fort Jay with a guitar, the art of story telling and the emphasis on creating a program that tells a story was definitely useful."

"Remember the exercise where Erica collected some personal information from each of us - "What's true for you today?"  --  The fact that she was able to collect a few key points and compose a song, and perform it on the spot, was quite special.  It was entertaining and I was hooked."

"By way of comparison, we had a training session the previous week at Ellis Island. I felt that, overall, the exercises we went through with him were less useful than the work with Erica Wheeler."