As we move into the 21st Century, interpreters have the obligation of carrying audiences beyond the level of simple awareness. We must communicate the message that this earthly environment nourishes the very bodies we live in and sustains our spirits. We must develop environmental respect and practice what we preach.
Parks are slices of the natural world. And in the natural world there is danger. Visitors to parks should know what a park is and isn’t before they commit themselves to spending their vacation or a weekend there. They should know if it’s going to be rough and primitive — and if they want the rough and primitive, fine. Interpreters have an obligation to inform people honestly. It would be wrong to plane down all the rough spots, shoot all the touchy animals, fence off all the cliffs, and offer visitors a park experience akin to the comfort of their own living room.
As interpreters, we should forever be mindful of the words of Mark Twain: “To do good works is noble. To teach others to do good works is nobler, and not trouble.”
Janson L. Cox, Superintendent, Charles Toivne Landing-1670 State Park, Charleston, South Carolina
Cox, Janson L., “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas.,” The Docent Educator 7.3 (Spring 1998): 15.