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


"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


"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."