Exportable Interpretation

John Veverka & Associates

#2 JV Logo.jpg (153054 bytes)

Interpretive Consultants

Provoke, Relate, Reveal and more!

For the Cutting edge in Heritage Interpretation

Interpretive Planning, Training, Evaluation and more!

World Wide

5010 Delray Dr. Lansing, Michigan 48910

(517) 899-4548 (we've gone mobile)   jvainterp@aol.com

SKYPE: jvainterp

Pen. Castle - Wales.jpg (159499 bytes) KBS - Bird Sanct. Birds on Lake.jpg (188829 bytes) COE Feb 03 Class.jpg (214810 bytes) KSC Eval#1 Mag. #3.jpg (98935 bytes)

Malta - JV at temple.jpg (205703 bytes) NMC-jv-1.jpg (276796 bytes) Cardif Mus May 07 1.jpg (204232 bytes)

From interpretive planning for castles in Wales for the National Trust and bird sanctuaries in Michigan for the Kellogg Biological Station, to interpretive training in Alabama for the US Army Corps of Engineers, and museum exhibit evaluation in Wisconsin - (bottom row) and critiquing ancient temples interpretation on Malta for Malta Heritage, prehistoric archaeological site interpretation in Utah for Nine Mile Canyon/BLM, and docent/interpretive staff training for the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, we do that - and more!

Heritage Interpretation: Interpretive Planning, Training and Consultation Services

Serving Parks, Museums, Historic Sites, Zoos & Botanical Gardens, Heritage Tourism Sites and Facilities, Commercial Tourism Attractions, and related interpretive sites and facilities -




2011 Projects

2010 Projects

2009 Projects

2008 Projects

2007 Projects

2006 Projects

2005 Projects

2004 Projects 

2003 Projects  Interpretive Services Library Interpretive Planning  Scenic Byways  Evaluation Links         Text Book     Training Video    Home Page



Interpretive Planning for "Exportable" Interpretation - Ideas to go away with.

                     John A. Veverka

The concept of "exportable" interpretation.

So what is "exportable" interpretation? The concept came very clear to me almost by accident while working on an interpretive plan for a Conservation Education Center in Iowa. Our team had visited several nearby nature centers to review their programs, services, exhibits, etc. so as not to duplicate anything at our project site. The thing that was lacking from all of the centers was the fact that none of the programs or exhibits had anything on how the visitor might use information being interpreted to them! None of the ideas or information were of any use outside of the Nature Center, Park, Forest, or Site boundary. The concepts could not be exported for use anywhere else. They were dead end programs!

The two key questions for planning exportable interpretation:

1. Why would a visitor want to know that?

If you can't answer this question, then why would a visitor want to come to this program or look at the exhibit in the first place?

2. How do you want the visitor to use the information that you are giving them? If you don't want the visitor to use the information, then why are you giving it to them?

In other words, an interpretor may find knowing the names of 100 wildflowers to be of use, but most visitors have no need of all that information. We are giving lots
of answers to questions that no one is asking! Of the 20 or more plants you identify for visitors on a wildflower walk - how many do you think they will actually remember 10 minutes after the programs is over or by the time they get home? And, how will they USE this information once they get home?

Using the exportable interpretation concept.

The exportable interpretation concept means that the planner:

1. Asks the two questions noted above, with particular interest to question #2.

2. Considers activities, handouts, demonstrations, etc. in the presentation of the program or exhibits to motivate, support, and encourage the visitor to use the  information being presented in some way.

3. The concept and information should be able to be used not only within the boundaries of the site, but should be able to be used by the visitor when they leave the site.

Given limited time and budget for programs, or visitor contact, why would an interpretor want to give visitors "non usable" information when, given the same time and cost, can encourage visitors to DO SOMETHING?

Here is an example:

Non exportable program theme: We have over 20 different species of trees in our park.

Exportable program theme: There are many benefits to planting trees at your home and throughout your community.

Let's take this last example and expand on it by developing the interpretive program objectives for the program.

- The majority of visitors will learn several different tree species that are native to this region and habitat requirements of each.

- The majority of visitors will learn at least one way each tree benefits wildlife, and people.

- The all visitors will feel encouraged to plant a new tree at their home, or donate a tree seedling to be planted at some local park or site.

- All visitors will receive a handout with three different tree seeds that they can plant at home.

As you can see from these objectives there is a focus of the program to 1) use the resources of the site for examples and inspiration; and 2) to transfer that information and inspiration into some positive action. Note the objective of having a handout to give each visitor at the end of the program.

Other exportable interpretive program or exhibit concepts (desired results) can take a variety of forms such as:

- Do not pick up Indian artifacts or pottery shards at any historic site you visit.
- Do not pick wildflowers at any park natural area.
- Recycling helps everybody - here are three simple things you can do at home.
- Join a nature or history club to learn more about ________.
- Go and visit other sites to keep on learning.
- Go to the library and read more about the subject.
- Volunteer at a park, forest, nature center or historic site.


The concept of exportable interpretation simply means that visitors can continue to use the information you interpreted to them "on site", after they have left your site. The "use" can be psychological in nature, such as "valuing" the natural world or understanding and supporting a particular type of resource management practice. The use can be "physical" in application, such as using native plants to landscape a yard, or recycling at home or office. The important thing is that the visitor can "use" the information interpreted to build on in some way.

John A. Veverka

E-Mail:  jvainterp@aol.com