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Interpretive Plan Outline

John Veverka & Associates
General Interpretive Plan Outline

Here's a copy of my basic interpretive plan document content outline.  This outline is often modified based on the profect scope of work.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions (

I.   Introduction and Scope of the Plan.
    A.   What was the scope of work the plan was to cover?

II.   Main Interpretive theme and Sub-themes (from focus workshops and site resource analysis).  
    A.   Main Interpretive theme and rational.
    B.   Main Sub-themes and rational.
    C.   Interpretive story-line flow bubble diagram.

III.   Total interpretive program/services objectives (Learn, Feel, Do).

(This is for the total interpretive program/services effort - site and/or visitor center combined.  This usually comes from a focus workshop, and edited based on the interpretive site resources review.)
    A.   Learning Objectives
    B.   Behavioral Objectives
    C.   Emotional Objectives

IV.   Visitor Analysis.
(This is usually based on existing visitor data as doing new visitor surveys is both time consuming and expensive).  Sections of this part of the plan can include:

    A.   Visitation numbers and trends over the past 3-5 years (graph this data).
    B.   Basic market profile - who are the visitors, where are they traveling from, how long are they            staying, gender and age variables, etc.
    C.   Visitor experience desires or focus (why are they visiting this site?).
    D.   Seasonal visitation trends or issues.
    E.   School group and curriculum based interpretive planning needs and issues.
    F.   Visitor Management Issues (relate to behavioral objectives).

V.   Individual Site Interpretive Inventory and Story Development Forms.

    A.   Site resource location/inventory map.  This map would show the locations of each interpretive site, feature, facility, etc. that an interpretive planning form set would be completed for (existing or proposed).
    B.   Interpretive Site Index list.  This is a list of all of the interpretive sites inventoried and included in the interpretive planning form sets that follow.
    C.   Interpretive Planning form sets for each interpretive site inventoried including orientation sites, facilities, trails, demonstration areas, historic sites, natural resource areas, etc.(existing or proposed).

         For each planning form set include:
                      a.    Site Inventory Form.
                            1.   Site Index Number (keyed to map).
                            2.   Site Name
                            3.   Site Location (reference site index map, etc.)
                            4.   Site Description (refer to photos if available).
                            5.   Interpretive Significance (why are we interpreting this site?).

                      b.   Story Development Form Set:
                              1.   Main Interpretive Theme/Topic for each individual site.
                              2.   Site Objectives.  These are physical development objectives such
                                    as building a stair way, add a viewing deck, etc.
                              3.   Interpretive program/services objectives.  These are the specific
                                    objectives (learn, feel or do) that interpretive programs, services  
                                    or media are to accomplish at this specific site.
                              4.  Recommended Interpretive Media for this location. This is a list of
                                   the interpretive media that could best be used to accomplish the
                                   stated objectives (i.e. self-guiding trail, interpretive panel, outdoor
                                   demonstration, guided walk, exhibit in a visitor center, etc.).
                              5.  Any budget issues or estimates.  This helps make each individual
                                   interpretive planning form set a "mini" work plan for each
                                   individual site or feature that is part of the interpretive plan.

VI.   Five year implementation and operations strategy/matrix.

This includes: Site Index Number - each Interpretive Media or Site Development needs - Fiscal Year for implementation - estimated cost for each site/item listed.
This allows us to plan priorities and costs for actually implementing the total interpretive plan 5 years down the road.

VII.   Evaluation recommendations.  How will you know if the interpretive media you are going to purchase actually works (accomplishes its objectives), such as pre-testing interpretive panels in draft form, etc.

VIII.   Appendices as needed.

Note: this is the interpretive planning model framework that I use in my training courses, for actually doing interpretive planning and illustrated in the text book Interpretive Master Planning.  This content outline can be modified as needed for specific scopes of work, but I feel is a minimum that any interpretive planning document should contain.

A different set of planning forms are used for visitor center/museum exhibit planning.

This is a working plan outline draft and we change this as needed.  If you would like to see a copy of an actual interpretive plan we developed usining this general outline I am happy to send you one to review.

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