|JCPRD’s Park Safety and Interpretive Division receives three NAI awards|
The NAI Region VI conference took place March 1-3 in Eureka Springs, Ark. Among the rewards received were Distinguished Professional Interpreter for Park Police Chief Dan Field, Outstanding Interpretive Volunteer for Volunteer Bill Araujo, and the Outstanding Interpretive Program Award went to the division’s Outdoor Discovery Camp.
Field is well known within and without the district for his portrayal of the colorful French voyager character “Jacque Flambeau” in the award winning Heritage History Lab program. This program has been presented to more than 91,000 people since 1983. For more than 20 years, Feild portrayed Jacque for ten weeks each fall and since his promotion to park police chief in 2005, he has continued to present the program for two weeks each year.
“During these years Dan has relentlessly strived to provide the highest quality interpretive programming possible by constantly challenging himself to utilize new interpretive techniques to expand his effectiveness as an interpreter,” Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan wrote in his nomination. “Dan’s mastery of interpretive technique is evident in the programs he has developed for JCPRD over the years.”
“Ecology Encounters” “Mysteries, Wonders and Myths, “ and “Archeology Dig” are among the other programs Field played a key role in developing. All of these programs have been recognized with awards from NAI Region VI and other organizations.
In addition, Field has presented workshops to the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, NAI Region VI conferences, Kansas State University Environmental Interpretation classes and Kansas Wildlife and Parks. In addition he has assisted in planning and conducting Region VI workshops in Kansas City in 1993 and 2004.
As Chief of Park Police, Field encourages and mentors officers to attend and be involved with NAI, and professional training in interpretation. He continues to lead by example by volunteering at storytelling events and presenting characters like the “Big Bad Wolf” and the “Lost Voyageur” at special events.
Araujo, a retiree, first came to the nature center as a volunteer in early 2008, Park Naturalists Andrea Johnson and Molly Postlewait wrote in their joint nomination. Araujo was later hired as a part-time challenge course facilitator at the TimberRidge Adventure Center, but resigned from this role at the end of 2008 so he could have time to “glove train” a great horned owl the center had just adopted.
To take on this role, which later expanded to include a barn owl adopted in June of 2009, he educated himself by reading and consulting with animal handlers at the Kansas City Zoo, where he also volunteers as a docent.
“Over a period of months of daily, Sunday-Saturday interaction, he moved from simply reading aloud to the nervous birds in their cages, to standing close to them, then finally having them sit on his gloved hand and being able to walk them around the building and outside,” his nominators wrote. “He also trained the owls to be crated for transportation to off-site programs. Both of the owls are now used in programs on- and off-site and are delighting the lives of children and adults.”
Araujo serves as a mentor to staff and volunteers alike in managing the center’s raptors and has written guidelines for their care and handling to which staff refer.
At his own expense, he went through Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) Training, and participated in a storytelling workshop, and the Great Kansas City Interpretive Site Coalition Workshop and Site Crawl. He has presented numerous interpretive programs, regularly works at special events, and developed a new program of his own called “Eyes of the Night” about owls. He has written articles for the nature center’s Tracks newsletter, shares his photography talents, and helped develop signage for the raptor cages.
“Whatever the day may bring, we can count on Bill to be there, volunteering with a smile and the desire to share his knowledge with others,” his nominators wrote. “While at the nature center, he takes every opportunity to talk to visitors.
The nomination of Araujo was also accompanied by a letter from Kansas City Zoo Volunteer Coordinator Carol Thompson in which she writes: “Bill Araujo is a tremendous asset to us here at the Kansas City Zoo. He truly cares about this institution, and wants everyone that works and volunteers here to be the best ambassadors for the zoo."
Outdoor Discovery Camp
This program was honored just in time for its 30th season this summer.
“In no other program with Johnson County Park and Recreation District do we have more opportunities to connect our participants to our resources than we do in the Outdoor Discovery Camp," wrote Johnson, who also nominated this program. “During camp we see children day after day, year after year. Outdoor Discovery Camp is a 10-week summer day camp. Some participants sign-up for a week or two every summer, but many of our campers sign-up for almost every week, every summer, starting at the age of six and many stay involved until they are 12. Some even continue as volunteers serving as volunteer Counselors in Training, helping with special events, or completing their Eagle Scout or Girl Scout Gold Awards to give back to the nature center."
Since its beginning near the entrance at Shawnee Mission Park in 1982, nearly 20,000 children have attended the summer program.Some of the favorite activities at camp include catching bugs, building forts, hiding in the prairie, playing ambush, creek hiking, catching crawdads, creating plays, finding nature treasures, fishing, canoeing, using BB guns, archery, animal programs, investigating nature, and just enjoying the outdoors unplugged.
“As one parent told me, ‘This is what kids should be doing, playing outside, getting dirty.’ The program allows the children to connect to natural and cultural history, some of which we see the effects and some of which will reach throughout the life of that person,” Johnson wrote. She has conducted training for other organizations including: the Frankfurt (Germany) International School in 2009; Interpreter training for Arkansas State Parks in 2006 and 2009; and sessions for the Interpretive Site Coalition of Greater Kansas City in 1999, 2001, and 2003.