On August 10, 2019, at Cabo Rojo NWR in Puerto Rico, the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) presented certificates to 14 participants who successfully completed Certified Interpretative Guide (CIG) training with the skills and knowledge to deliver quality interpretative programming to visitors. Hosted by the National Wildlife Refuge Association, organized by our Caribbean Conservation Coordinator Jessica Castro-Prieto with support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and led by local trainer Eliezer Nieves, Friends group members from Cabo Rojo, Vieques and Culebra NWRS gathered for sessions spread over 32 hours from August 6 to August 10. The training is designed to benefit everyone from those new to the field to those who’ve already been employed as a guide, and covers a wide range of topics from the beginning and growth of interpretation as a profession, to useful techniques for guides as they organize programs that combine relevant and enjoyable content that will leave visitors with an appreciation for and connection to the site they are exploring.
Refuge Friends Groups in Puerto Rico have a vital role in supporting and providing environmental education and interpretation on refuges, made even more urgent by the lack of visitor facilities and staff in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. At Vieques NWR, for example, Friends are setting up tents and booths so that they can welcome visitors and provide environmental education and interpretation. Certification by the NAI strengthens the depth and breadth of the educational programs offered to school groups as well as to the general public.