Interpretive Development Program | The PUP Global Heritage Consortium

Heritage Interpretation Development

Heritage Interpretation Development is the PUP Consortium arm that specializes in heritage management performance through the use of heritage interpretation, interpretive and experience planning, and product development. Its corps of instructors offer a variety of performance-building programs focused on key interpretive and public use skill sets and roles. Skills include Public Speaking, Graphic Design, Basics of Effective PowerPoint Presentations, Exhibit Design, Interpretive Research Methods, Interpretive Planning, Storytelling, Interpretive Evaluation, Product Design, Experience Planning, Public Use Planning for Heritage Areas, Itinerary and Product Management, New Models of Protected Area Management. Sometimes we contribute to offerings of other programs.

How We Differ from Other Interpretive Training Efforts

Unlike most interpretive training programs, ours focuses on the development of management performance, so we do not view interpretive training as either isolated or stand-alone. We work with organizations more than individuals to help them build their ability to use interpretation as a management strategy. Like the rest of the PUP Consortium, we adhere to the PUP Training Principles (link to principles) that focus on development more than just trainings. Here are specific ways we differ from other programs.

  • We work with the agency and its social context rather than just with isolated guides.
  • We mentor interpreters in the process of producing a market-ready product rather than one-off, one-time trainings.
  • We do not certify for completing a course, rather we recognize interpreters once they produce polished products tested with real audiences.
  • We do not dedicate valuable time to teaching theory or history, rather we focus on skill building.
  • We do not have one-size-fits-all training; we adjust for local guides, national guides, professional interpreters, or interpretive managers.
  • We prefer not to offer training in just interpretation, rather accompany that with complementary skills in product development and other guiding skills for the organization that employs interpreters. The PUP Consortium has trusted members to offer complementary skills.
  • We prefer to work with supervisors to learn how interpretation can help meet their management objectives.
  • We prefer to work with a local assistant or choose the best student to serve as future trainers, so local interpretive capacity is greater than when we arrived.
  • We demonstrate every skill, whether message writing, storytelling, or interpreted walks, so guides experience live quality examples.
  • The program is based at CATIE taking advantage of its programs, certifying power, and academic credibility.
  • In short, we apply the principles of adult education and holistic training (references available upon request). Guides from Honduras in 1998 rehearse their interpretive skills
brochure catalog

Our History

Born in the 1990s with RARE Center for Tropical Conservation’s Nature Guide Training Program throughout Mesoamerica (Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico), it has evolved to a multi-stage process in 2006 with Fermata Inc. in south Texas, Costa Rica with the Costa Rican Bird Route, Bolivia with the US Department of State, and Colombia’s Otún Quimbaya Sanctuary with USAID and Colombian National Parks. Successive versions have become more holistic and integrated such as its work in El Cocuy National Park in Colombia in 2012 (USAID, OpEPA, SENA) and with Rios Tropicales rafting company in 2013. In late 2013 Jon Kohl integrated his work into the PUP Consortium’s Heritage Interpretive Development Program and began with participatory interpretive planning in Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Additional projects are being developed in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States (Fire Island National Seashore, New York).

See our full list of efforts related to interpretation development (only in Spanish).

Ver la lista completa de esfuerzos relacionados con el desarrollo de la interpretación.


The Team

Our expert team is bilingual in Spanish and English, all experienced in international development as well as interpretation, and work from a variety of countries.



Duane Fast 200 x 200

Duane Fast – International Interpretation Expert, Consortium Advisor

For over 30 years Duane, a Canadian, has led Artcraft Display Graphics Inc. Under his tenure it became an internationally known designer and fabricator of interpretive exhibits and graphics. As an industry leading expert, Duane is contributing editor to Digital Graphics Magazine. Part of Duane’s commitment to social justice involves donating time and expertise to many non-profit causes including President of the Themed Attraction Association Canada, Founding Director of NAI International Interpretation, Associate of TEAM Tourism Consulting, Executive Member of the IGU Commission on UNESCO Geoparks, and advisor to the PUP Consortium.

sam ham

Sam Ham – Professor, Environmental Communications

For over 30 years Sam Ham, American, has been the leading scholar in heritage interpretation, integrating the fields of communications, psychology, and interpretation into what we now know today as thematic interpretation, popularized by his classic book, Environmental Interpretation, first published in 1992. The sequel, Interpretation — Making a Difference on Purpose came out in 2013. Ham is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho and works and consults throughout the world promoting interpretation and its application to protected area management.



Jon Kohl – Coordinator, PUP Global Heritage Consortium

Although Jon, an American and Costa Rican binational, practices interpretation principally within public use or tourism planning in heritage areas, he draws on a variety of experiences. He has worked as an interpretive writer, planner, guide trainer, educator, blogger (see below), and orator. He gives university courses and researches interpretation including participatory interpretive frameworks, role of interpretation in community development, and authenticity’s participation in shaping visitor experiences. He has practiced interpretation with the Smithsonian Institution Office of Environmental Awareness, National Museum of Natural History, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Costa Rican National Zoo (US Peace Corps), UNESCO World Heritage Center, University of Costa Rica/CATIE/ELAP, Legacy Magazine, Fermata, Inc., World Birding Center, US State Department, Ríos Tropicales, Costa Rican Bird Route, and INBio/ACROPOT national guide certification. He has led or participated in interpretive guide training in English and Spanish in Texas, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. He received his Masters in Environmental Management from Yale University and Bachelor’s from Dartmouth College.

See interpretation videos, interpretation publications, and Interpretive Resume.



Carlos Rosero – Professional Guide and Trip Designer

Carlos, a Colombian, studied  industrial design at the Javeriana University, but was certified as a professional tourism guide specialized in ecotourism, nature interpretation, and now has more than 18 years in outdoor education, operations, and delivery of educational and touristic excursions, as well as development of touristic products for educational, recreational, and school-based goals. Since 2008 he works as instructor in Corporation Clorofila Urbana’s Training Program for Guides and Environmental Educators. He also works with the Organization for Education and Environmental Protection as instructor in Outdoor Education and Community Strengthening Programs. With PUP, he participated in an interpretive guide training in Colombia 2010 and in 2012.


Ivonne Oviedo- National Representative in Honduras, Executive Director of the Honduran Network of Private Protected Areas

Ivonne is Honduran and has wide experience in protected areas management as area manager, government protected areas regional director, and non-profit advocate. Her deep interest in interpretation highlights her experience in public use management. She also led PUP’s most innovative interpretation training program to date, an eight-month, two-workshop approach to developing interpretation in national park personnel.



Marisol Mayorga – Professor, Environmental Interpretation

Marisol, a Costa Rican, combined biology and environmental education to specialize in curriculum materials development. She holds a Master’s in environmental education and interpretation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and coordinated the University of Costa Rica Environmental Interpretation Program for six years. Now she pursues her doctorate at Kansas State University with Dr. Ted Cable, focusing on perception and authenticity.



Testimonials from Training Participants

Jennifer Owen-White, PhD, Refuge Manager

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (English)

Clara Osorio Dussán, Ecotourism Professional

National Parks of Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia (Español)

Ricardo Ariza, Tourism Manager,

Municipality of Facatativá,  Colombia (Español)

Back to Top