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NAI Certified Interpretive Guide Training

Become a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG)

If you work (or would like to work) at nature centers, zoos, museums etc. helping visitors connect with our natural or cultural heritage this 32 – hour course is for you! The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) offers a professional certification program to recognize individuals who exhibit knowledge and skills necessary to assure quality interpretive services to all audiences. The Certified Interpretive Guide program is one level in that program. The goal of the CIG program is to provide consistent, high quality training for staff and volunteers who had little or no opportunity to learn about interpretation or who want a refresher course on the basics of presenting interpretive programs.

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) Certified Interpretive Guide training will help you gain skills and become more confident in creating and presenting programs, hikes and other presentations. You will find new ways to inspire others to learn more and care more for resources you cherish.

March 18 – 21, 2016;  8:30  AM – 5:00 PM Daily
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
Clermont, Kentucky

Registration Deadline: Extended to March 7  2016

This course includes:

  • history, definition, and principles of interpretation; presentation and communication skills
  • ideas, considersations and strategies for making your programs purposeful, enjoyable, relevant, organized, and thematic
  • ways to make programs more meaningful by incorporating tangible objects and intangible ideas into your programs
  • presentation and communication skills
  • certification requirements (open book exam; program outline; 10-min. presentation)
  • all materials and workbook


Bernheim with its 14,000 areas of natural areas, innovative green Visitor Center and a two hundred acre arboretum offers lots of extra perks as a setting for this CIG training. In addition to the miles of hiking trails and abundant natural beauty, Bernheim is also a great place to experience innovative learning technologies. Bernheim is located just 30 minutes south of Louisville off of Interstate 65.

Who should attend?

  • Volunteers and docents who lack experience or education background in the field of interpretation.
  • Students or others who are interested in pursuing a career in interpretation
  • Contract teachers in natural or cultural history programming
  • Newly hired full-time or part-time interpreters, long time interpreters with no formal interpretive training.

Your instructor:

Patty Wren Smith has over 25 years of interpretive experience and was named Naturalist of the Year for 2010 by The Kentucky Society of Natural History. Wren’s passion and inspirational interpretive gifts were recognized this year by NAI who awarded her with the Master Frontline Interpretive Award in 2011.  Wren is a creative instructor who makes interpretive training fun, memorable and highly rewarding. She frequently contributes articles for NAI’s Legacy magazine, two of which received NAI Outstanding awards.

Additional Information:

Class size is limited to 15 to ensure individual attention. There are no prerequisites for this training workshop other than a desire to learn new skills for connecting people to your natural and cultural resources. While snacks will be provided each day, you will need to supply your own lunches. You can bring a bag lunch or purchase a lunch at the Bernheim Café.

If you would like suggestions about nearby lodging feel free to contact Wren at 502- 955-8512 ex 227. There are several nice Bed and Breakfasts in historic Bardstown about 14 miles from Bernheim and lodging can be obtained just 10 minutes away in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Some inexpensive lodging may be available on site for early birds.

The mission of NAI is to inspire leadership and excellence to advance natural and cultural interpretation as a profession.

Certified Interpretive Trainers (CIT) have successfully completed the CIG Train the Trainers Workshop. They are trained, qualified instructors that lead the CIGs-in-training through the entire certification program. CITs can host the NAI certification workshops wherever there is a demand for it.

CIG Course Requirements:

All participants must attend all four days of training. Successful students will complete 32 hours of training, pass a written exam with a minimum score of 80%, and demonstrate use of skills acquired in the training course.
Overview of interpretation profession
NAI past, present and future
Description of the certification process
Definition and principles of interpretation
Audience and Resources Research
How, when and why it is done
Program development
National Park Service: Interpretive Equation
Linking tangibles to intangibles and universal concepts.
Elements of Interpretation
How to complete a presentation outline
Program delivery
Intepretive communication techniques
Informal interpretation and the interpretive log
Certification requirements
Exam Part 1
Presentation outline
10 minute presentation
Evaluation of Instructor

Training Options:

All participants must complete the 32-hour training course; however each participant may determine if you want to be certified, join NAI (as a member). As a certified CIG you will receives a certificate and a NAI souvenir item. CIGs also receive authorization to use the NAI logo on business cards and add CIG after your names.


Registration and payment will be handled through NAI.  at

Questions? Call Wren Smith at (502) 955 – 8512 ext. 227 or email her at

For a summary of information about other certification levels, please view NAI’s Certification Program at a Glance web page.

  • Additional Resources If you wish to purchase your own books, please visit the NAI store The books are $107.00 for current members and $135.00 for non-members plus shipping. You may wish to purchase the books after you have paid for your registration to this workshop and receive the discounted member rate. It is recommended that you look over the material in advance to allow you to focus more on class activities during the workshop. All materials included in your course will be shipped to your instructor. Texts used are:
  • The Gifts of Interpretation (Larry Beck and Ted Cable)
  • Interpretation: Making a Difference on Purpose (Sam Ham)
  • Personal Interpretation (Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman)
  • Interpreting our Heritage (Freeman Tilden)


  • Further Information For more information about the course, please contact Wren Smith at or call 502 955 8512 x227.
  • Registration Rates (non Bernheim staff) Early (By March 4, 2016): $245 Regular: $270 Add Certification: $150 Special Terms and Cancellation Cancellations must be made in writing and emailed, postmarked, or faxed by March 4, 2016; a nonrefundable processing fee of $50.00 will be assessed. Emailed cancellations should be sent to Cancellations cannot be made by phone. No refunds will be given after March 4, 2016