The Interpretive Services and Outreach Program (ISOP) is an essential part of the Corps Civil Works program. Through this program we can communicate Corps missions and accomplishments, achieve management objectives, and foster environmental stewardship. Reaching diverse audiences and partners, it can improve visitor and employee safety, help with team cohesiveness, and enhance visitor's experiences by providing interpretive resources to meet their needs. It is one of the most effective tools we have to connect with the general public, our user groups, and stakeholders.
The Corps defines interpretation as "Communication and education processes provided to internal and external audiences, which support the accomplishments of the agency's missions, tell the agency's story and reveal the meanings of and the relationships between natural, cultural, and created environments and their features." The key is to help people connect to and relate to our sites, leading to their involvement and support. This can be done through displays, brochures, visitor center exhibits, and interpersonal contacts, among other ways.
Interpretive services are usually provided by highly trained, highly motivated Park Rangers, many of who are professionally certified interpreters. These people have the skills to help visitors relate to our sites, promote safety, encourage stewardship, and appreciate the role of the Corps. Although Park Rangers traditionally use these skills, every communication between any Corps team member and a member of the public can benefit from interpretive techniques.
Policy and Procedures - The Interpretive Services and Outreach Program brings consistency to communications with our visitors. There are several different policies that have been developed to serve as guidelines. These regulations include our goals to make the program more efficient and effective.
Program Summary - The Corps' Interpretive Services and Outreach Program (ISOP) regulations were updated in 1996 (ER & EP 1130-2-550). These regulations include our goals to make the program more efficient and effective. Every interpretive effort, whether a live program, a spontaneous verbal exchange, participation in a career fair, a visitor center display, or a publication should be based on one or more of the goals. Two major focus areas are environmental education and outreach.
Toolbox - These samples of interpretive programs have been submitted by Corps interpreters nationwide to assist you in interpreting your agency's resources. These interpretive products are property of the Corps of Engineers and can be used at other Corps projects without restrictions.
Training and Professional Certification - There are multiple regional and national training opportunities. These options provide the interpreter many valuable tools and information. The National Association for Interpretation offers professional certification in several categories including: Certified Interpretive Guide, Certified Interpretive manager, Certified Interpretive Planner, Certified Heritage Interpreter, Certified Interpretive Host, and Certified Interpretive Trainer.
Reference - The publications listed contain useful facts or information. See also Policy & Procedures for regulation guidance.
Related Sites - The following Internet hyperlinks may be useful in developing interpretive products or services.
News/Current Events -
Reports from various committees and working groups that support interpretation, recent policy changes, upcoming meetings and training, hot topics, new technologies and general announcements that can help our interpreters keep up with the latest topics and happenings.
Good Enough To Share (GETS) - GETS are your success stories. They include interpretive efforts that worked as planned, with the desired results. GETS also includes success stories resulting from successful partnering with local agencies or organizations.
Lessons Learned - The purpose of this section is to share examples of "what did not work" and "why it did not work." This is not to say these ideas could never work, but for some reason, they did not work under the circumstances we tried. For ideas that did work, see the section GETS.
Division and District Points of Contact - The Natural Resource Management (NRM) Smart Book is designed to be the resource to locate field staff responsible for NRM program areas. In order for the system to be useful, it is necessary for field staff to review and correct the content, keeping it current. The NRM Smart Book is only accessible from an official office (army.mil) computer and is not available to the general public, due to regulatory restrictions.
Awards - The Hiram M. Chittenden Award for Excellence in Interpretation recognizes the superb interpretive efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's interpreter of the year. It also recognizes interpretive accomplishments of district and division award winners.