“Connecting Visitors with Inspired Staff: Training Front-line Staff and Volunteers” will be on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, from 1:30-5 p.m. (not Saturday)
As history professionals, we believe that our sites are special places. Helping visitors
find a connection to these places is at the core of what we do—and is essential for our
long-term sustainability. Every year, visitor research and learning theory provide us with
more information about what the public wants from their visits to museums and historic
sites. Yet we often fail to translate this data into meaningful training that enables our
frontline staff to create excellent experiences for our guests. Instead, guided tours and
interpretive programs often take the form of mini lectures on the topics that interest
the front-line interpretive staff or docents. “Connecting Visitors with Inspired Staff:
Training Front-line Staff and Volunteers” will give participants an opportunity to hone
their training skills. The workshop will provide concrete ways to teach front-line staff
and volunteers to improve their active listening skills, their storytelling abilities, their
adaptability, etc. Through presentations and hands-on activities, the session will
explore how to train paid and unpaid interpretive staff to lead high-quality, pedagogically
sound tours and programs that put the needs and interests of the visitors first.
Participants will consider how to ensure that programs encourage critical thinking, social
interaction, and. . .fun.
Session panelists are Mary Ann Ruelas, of the Education and Outreach Division at the
Arizona Historical Society; Rebecca Martin, the volunteer and tour coordinator at the
National Archives in Washington, DC; and Trina Nelson Thomas, the senior director of
public programs at the Indiana Historical Society.
This program will follow the morning workshop “Connecting Visitors with Inspired
Staff: “Hiring Front-Line Staff and Volunteers,” and the material in the afternoon session
will build on content of the morning session. However, participants are welcome to
attend one without the other.
When registering for the AASLH Annual Meeting, look for the workshop under the
Saturday offerings–but remember that you’ll be attending on Wednesday afternoon. And there are even more workshops that will interest to historic sites.