And I’m not referring to the fact that on a good day I can order my meal at a mexican restaurant or have a brief chat in Spanish with my grandmother. No. I learned a much more complicated language this past week. It all began with my first brush with Environmental Interpretation training at the BLM office. I arrived bright and early on Monday morning to meet Lorrie Crawford, a long time environmental education instructor. I was curious as to what my day would consist of – I had never heard of formal environmental education.
We started out with Lorrie giving an example of a successful high school teacher who also volunteered at a national park. He was frustrated because the same well received and stimulating lecture he presented to his students was dismissed by the audience at the visitor’s center of a busy park. The idea was that the agenda of the audience is vastly different, and so the presentation needs to fit each audiences needs. This was an incredibly eye-opening and also intimidating concept for me to stomach. She was more or less telling me that the people I would be interacting with could get up and leave at any moment; it would be my job to ensure that they didn’t get that urge. By becoming an environmental interpreter my job would be to appeal to the emotional interests of the audience in order to promote appreciation for whatever site or interest I am promoting.
I was super excited to realize that this was something I was already starting to do in my work with outreach for EFTA! But through this training I was given valuable tools to be more successful and hopefully reach more people! It seems obvious that in order to keep someone interested in what you are talking about you must appeal to their interests, but after a few rounds of trying to improv a presentation I assure you, it is more difficult than one would think. Especially when you are talking about scientific concepts that are not obvious to the general public. At times it really is as if you are becoming a translator – getting your community up to date on the research and biological importance of your work! This is something that I am very passionate about, especially considering that my goal for the next 6 months is to spark and maintain interest in science fields. Since I love talking I am usually very comfortable presenting any sort of material to a general audience, but having an audience that doesn’t necessarily have to listen to me presents a new challenge that I am very excited about. Just one more skill that I feel very fortunate for this internship to have provided me with 🙂