Park Interpreter

A park interpreter connects visitors with nature, offering educational programs, tours, and workshops highlighting the park's natural and cultural heritage. They simplify ecological concepts, making them engaging for all ages, and emphasize the importance of conservation. Through storytelling and interpretive techniques, they aim to inspire environmental stewardship. Additionally, they create informational materials like brochures and exhibits to deepen visitors' appreciation of the natural world. Their work fosters a deeper connection between the community and the natural world, encouraging environmental stewardship and conservation.

At a Glance

Imagine being a wildlife interpretation officer at a bustling marine protected area, tasked with developing engaging educational programs and activities. With a background in wildlife biology and environmental education, you have the knowledge and experience to design interactive programs highlighting the unique ecology, rich history, and critical conservation efforts of the marine environment. You aim to deepen the public's understanding and appreciation of the underwater world, fostering a strong sense of stewardship among visitors of all ages.

However, a challenge emerges: securing additional funding to support these vital initiatives. The need for innovative solutions becomes apparent, pushing you to think creatively about attracting attention and resources to your cause. Drawing upon your expertise and passion for marine conservation, you leverage the power of storytelling and multimedia, crafting a compelling video series showcasing the marine protected area's beauty, biodiversity, and the urgent need for its preservation.

You present your proposal to various funding bodies and local businesses, including a detailed plan for the video series and its potential impact on visitor engagement and education. Your efforts pay off when a local environmental foundation, inspired by your vision and dedication, agrees to fund the project.

The video series becomes a hit, drawing widespread attention and increasing visitor numbers. With this success, you secure the future of your educational programs and inspire a broader audience to become advocates for marine conservation. Your work exemplifies how dedication, creativity, and expertise can overcome challenges, significantly impacting environmental education and conservation.

Job Duties

Job duties vary from one position to the next, but in general, park interpreters are involved in the following activities:


  • Design and implement engaging educational programs and activities for diverse audiences, focusing on the area's ecology, history, and conservation efforts.
  • Lead guided tours and interpretive walks, offering detailed insights into the local environment's natural features, wildlife, and historical importance.
  • Create and upkeep informative exhibits and displays that showcase the area's distinct qualities, making them exciting and accessible to all visitors.
  • Interact with visitors, providing answers and valuable information to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the local ecosystem.
  • Advocate for conservation awareness and sustainable practices among visitors, encouraging their involvement in preserving natural resources.
  • Help manage natural resources by monitoring wildlife, upkeeping trails, and participating in conservation and restoration initiatives.
  • Engage in community outreach, including educational programs for schools and public events, to broaden the impact of the area's educational efforts.
  • Research local wildlife, geology, and history to produce precise and captivating content for educational programs and materials.
  • Train and oversee volunteers or junior staff, ensuring they are prepared to offer exceptional interpretive services and support to visitors.
  • Prioritize visitor safety by sharing information on local regulations, trail conditions, and emergency protocols and responding promptly to emergencies.

Work Environment

Park interpreters operate within the office and field. In each of these settings, individuals in this occupation carry out various duties.

The office:

  • Develop comprehensive plans for educational programs, outlining goals, content, and timelines while keeping detailed attendance records and evaluations to measure success.
  • Seek out funding opportunities, craft grant proposals to obtain financial support for conservation and education initiatives and compile detailed reports for stakeholders on the results and impact of these programs.
  • Develop and distribute educational materials to engage park visitors and the wider community, including brochures, newsletters, and online content.
  • Gather and evaluate feedback from visitors, using this data to gauge the effectiveness of programs and guide the planning of future activities.
  • Collaborate with park colleagues, government bodies, and community groups on shared educational and conservation projects, enhancing the reach and impact of these efforts.
  • Engage in continuous learning by attending webinars, workshops, and conferences, staying informed about the latest environmental education and conservation trends.

The field:

  • Conduct guided tours, hikes, and outdoor educational programs to share the park's natural and cultural history with visitors.
  • Perform regular observations and monitor local wildlife and habitats, collecting data to support educational programs and conservation initiatives.
  • Check trails and public areas for safety issues, maintenance requirements, and chances to improve or add educational signage.
  • Engage directly with visitors throughout the park, providing immediate educational insights into its features and answering questions to enrich their visit.
  • Get involved in conservation efforts on the ground, such as restoring habitats, monitoring species, and managing invasive species to protect the park's ecological balance.
  • Plan and execute outdoor activities, like nature walks, bird-watching excursions, and conservation workshops, to involve the community in environmental stewardship.

Possible work environment hazards for a park interpreter could include:

  • Wildlife encounters
  • Environmental conditions
  • Rugged terrain
  • Isolation in remote areas
  • Exposure to vector-borne diseases


Where to Work

Park interpreters are employed across various sectors, encompassing government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions, such as:

  • National, provincial, or territorial parks
  • Nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries
  • Botanical gardens
  • Environmental education centres
  • Historic sites and cultural heritage parks
  • Marine protected areas and aquariums
  • Forest preserves
  • Outdoor adventure camps
  • Urban green spaces and municipal parks

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are a high school student considering a career as a park interpreter, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Environmental conservation and stewardship
  • Wildlife and natural habitat study
  • Outdoor recreation and adventure
  • Cultural history and anthropology
  • Public speaking and environmental education

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a park interpreter, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Environmental Science
  • Wildlife Biology
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Environmental Education
  • Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies

While not mandatory, professional certification offers park interpreters a pathway to enrich their skills, establish their professionalism, and contribute more effectively to their field, ultimately enhancing the impact of their work on public education and conservation efforts.

  • Professional Interpreter Certification
  • CPR and First Aid Certification
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

In addition, national and provincial professional association membership for park interpreters offers opportunities for personal and professional growth, the support of a community of like-minded professionals, and the ability to contribute to and benefit from collective efforts to advance environmental education and conservation.

  • Interpretation Canada
  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association
  • The Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Ecological and environmental knowledge
  • Cultural and historical interpretation
  • Wildlife observation and identification
  • First Aid and CPR certification
  • Navigation and survival skills
  • Public education and program development
  • Interpretive techniques and storytelling
  • Resource management
  • Multimedia and technology use
  • Language skill

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability
  • Public speaking
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Passion for learning

Role Models

Ellen Gasser

The combination of biology and teaching is a perfect fit for me, however, it was the natural environment that first held my interest from the age of twelve. I lived across the street from a forest when I was young and my adventures there influenced my career direction. In high school, a very knowledgeable teacher fostered my interest in the natural world and I decided to pursue an environmental career. My first university degree was a B.Sc. in Environmental Biology. I worked as a Wildlife Biologist, Interpreter, Interpretive Writer and Interpretive Planner for the first ten years of my career.

I then returned to university for a Bachelor of Education to study how people learn and apply that to my work in interpretation and exhibit design. At university I was advised to take summer jobs that gave me valuable experience towards my career. It was good advice and the experience increased my skills, making me more marketable after graduation. Park interpreters are hired by national and provincial park systems and historic sites as well as city managed environmental, nature and interpretive centers and non-government organizations like tourist attractions, zoos and other conservation groups. You can also work for privately owned tour guiding companies or even cruise ships.

Interpretation Canada offers training workshops, a conference and networking opportunities for people interested in this profession. It is a great way to learn up to date information. Another group I belong to, the Alberta Teachers Association, has two specialist councils, the Science Council and the Global, Environmental and Outdoor Education Council. These organizations, as well as the Canadian Museums Association, Science Centre Associations and Environmental Associations all offer great conferences.

There are several other networking opportunities, depending on where you are located. In my local area, the Society of Educational Resource Groups networks all the organizations offering education programming and provides me with an additional way to stay current in the area. People want to learn about the environment. There will be a continuing need for interpreters to staff parks and tourist attractions because the human aspects of teaching are the most effective for learning.

Presently, I am enjoying the balance in my work. The guided walks, park promotion and teaching are rewarding hands-on activities. Later in my career, I see myself writing books and offering my services as a consultant to environmental organizations. Don’t do this job for the money. A good wage can be had but the best rewards are the people you teach and work with, the environment you experience every day, viewing wildlife and enjoying what you do. If you want to work as a park interpreter, be persistent, apply to many different places, increase your skills and keep your enthusiasm high. Don’t give up too soon, you will make it.

My day is 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except when I work evenings or weekends to give a presentation or guided walk at a public event. During tourist seasons an interpreter is required to work weekends and take their days off during the week as most people are in the parks, museums or historic sites on weekends. It is very important to have good computer skills for word processing, email, Internet searches and preparing presentations. Public speaking, drama and music are also excellent skills to have. Interpersonal skills will be a benefit as well when you are interacting with many different types of people every day.

Over the last twenty-four years, I have worked in the environmental area at many different places doing a variety of roles. I am proud of my contribution to the Canadian Wilds section of the Calgary Zoo, the Energeum (energy museum), the parks and other tourist attractions where I have worked. People who share similar values to mine with regards to the environment have helped me along the way. My goal is to pass on the help and knowledge that was given to me. The response I receive from people by sparking their interest in nature and history assures me that I am making a difference in their lives.

Your Impact

A park interpreter is an essential bridge between the public and nature, significantly contributing to environmental conservation and education. By offering educational programs, tours, and interactive exhibits, they cultivate a more profound respect and understanding of ecological and cultural conservation among visitors. This role is critical in advocating sustainability and stewardship, urging visitors to embrace environmentally friendly behaviours.

As a critical environmental position, Park Interpreters safeguard natural resources by educating the public about the challenges facing ecosystems and highlighting the crucial need for preserving these spaces for future generations. Their efforts lead to substantial sustainability benefits, as informed visitors are more inclined to support conservation initiatives, thereby minimizing adverse human impacts on natural habitats.

Economically, they bolster eco-tourism and stimulate demand for natural park visits, generating income that supports further conservation work. On a social level, park interpreters boost community involvement and awareness, forging stronger bonds between people and the natural environment and instilling a collective sense of responsibility towards environmental care.

Park interpreters are instrumental in promoting sustainable human-environment interactions through their commitment to education and conservation.

Occupational Classification

Park interpreters are classified into the following occupational groupings:

NOC Code: 53100 – Registrars, restorers, interpreters and other occupations related to museum and art galleries

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

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