Welcome to 2017

szgraggenHello and happy 2017! I want to introduce myself and welcome you to what I hope will be an exciting new year. My name is Suzanne Zgraggen, and I am the new director of the Rocky Mountain Region (Region 7). When no one was nominated for Region leadership in last year’s elections, NAI Deputy Director Paul Caputo asked for volunteers in the Region meeting at the National Conference in Corpus Christi. Long story short, here I am! I am excited to be here for you and to get things going.

A little about me: I am the Academic and Community Programs Manager at Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have been an interpreter for 17 years and I am currently a CIG and CIGT. I went to school to be a high school biology teacher, but went into informal education because I was a docent at the zoo while going to college and I leapt at the chance to work here. At the zoo I manage the statewide school outreach program and staff, all of our Scout programs, and all of our adult programs. I met my husband while working at the Zoo and we have two small boys, ages 3 and 9 months. My hobbies usually include reading books and doing origami, but right now mainly consist of being the mother to two small boys.

Other FAQs: My last name is Swiss-German and is pronounced skraggen. Don’t worry, I didn’t really think it was a real last name the first time I saw it, either.

I want to extend a big thanks to William Bevil, outgoing director. Will served two terms and has been a great help in the transition process. He has even offered to help serve as the Colorado state representative, since that position was vacant.

Getting the Rocky Mountain Region back on its feet is going to be a process and I will need help from all of you to get us going. Are you interested in helping with regional leadership? Do you want to be a state representative? Are you willing to help your state representative get interpreters together in your area? Do you have ideas for newsletter articles, webinars, or regional conferences? Are there interpretive job openings in your area that you want to advertise to Region members? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I want to hear from you! My email is szgraggen@hoglezoo.org. As region director, I am here to help you and connect you with other interpreters. I can’t do that without you!

  • Upcoming CIG workshops in the Region:
    • Bozeman, MT January 31-February 14
    • Salt Lake City, UT Feb 28-March 3
    • Littleton, CO March 7-10
    • Kalispell, MT May 22-25

Thank you for your support and I hope to hear from and meet many of you in the coming year.

Suzanne Zgraggen

Director, Rocky Mountain Region

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The View of a Lifetime

by Carla Johns

What’s on your bucket or life list? Check off anything recently?

2012 annular eclipse (moon not large enough to obscure entire disc of Sun) photographed at sunset in eastern New Mexico. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Kevin Baird, under c.c.-by-s.a.-3.0.

2012 annular eclipse (moon not large enough to obscure entire disc of Sun) photographed at sunset in eastern New Mexico. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Kevin Baird, under c.c.-by-s.a.-3.0.

One of life’s most phenomenal and awe-inspiring experiences is on the horizon. A total eclipse of the Sun will take place in the United States on August 21, 2017. Totality will occur midday, making it a conveniently timed, yet rare celestial event to share with your visitors and an ideal check mark on that list.

Total solar eclipses generally take place somewhere in the world approximately every eighteen months. However, the last North American eclipse occurred in February 1979 in the Pacific Northwest, then tracked up through central Canada, Hudson Bay, and drew to a close in Greenland.

The centerline for the upcoming August 2017 eclipse will begin in the Pacific Ocean and then reach land in northern Oregon at 10:15 a.m. PDT. The eclipse path will continue east through central Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, the northeastern tip of Kansas, Missouri, the southern tip of Illinois, western Kentucky, central Tennessee, the western tip of North Carolina, northeastern Georgia, and will then pass through South Carolina before heading out to the Atlantic at 2:47 p.m. EDT. The location of greatest duration (longest period of totality) will take place in Giant City State Park, located close to Makanda, Illinois where the Sun will be completely obscured by the Moon for 2 minutes and 40 seconds at approximately 1:20 p.m. CDT.

Google Earth interactive map of the Solar Eclipse path.

Google Earth interactive map of the Solar Eclipse path.

As the path of the eclipse crosses the country it will intersect many national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, conservation areas, and parks. Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Siuslaw National Forest will be the first on the continent to experience the eclipse. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve as well as Boise, Salmon-Challis, Sawtooth, and Targhee National Forests in Idaho will be within the path of totality. The eclipse narrowly misses Yellowstone National Park, but Grand Teton National Park will enjoy a spectacular view. The eclipse will then cross through Nebraska National Forest and Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. In Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, countless wildlife refuges and conservation areas will have excellent vantage points for the event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will enjoy a terrific show as the Moon’s shadows races over the hills into Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. Finally, Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina will be the last protected area to view the eclipse.

At first contact, the Moon will begin to move in front of the disk of the Sun. The changes won’t be perceptible yet, but as totality takes hold and the entire disk of the Moon completely obscures our star, it will introduce dramatic changes to the landscape. Witnessing a total solar eclipse is a very moving experience for most people as one’s senses are heightened when day suddenly turns into night. From a scientific and intellectual perspective, it’s a fascinating conjunction of solar system bodies which humankind has only recently come to understand. Many eclipse viewers become hooked on the experience and become eclipse chasers, traveling the globe in search of their next opportunity to experience the thrill of totality.

Leading up to the event, you may want to encourage visitors to share their thoughts as to how totality will look and feel as the day turns to night and back again. Ask them if the temperature will rise or fall. Do they think the stars and planets will appear and then disappear? How will the horizon look within the middle of the Moon’s shadow? Do they know how birds and animals may react during the eclipse? Are they aware of how ancient civilizations interpreted eclipses?

Since total solar eclipses occur only during a new Moon, it’s also the perfect occasion to plan nighttime astronomy activities. Warm summer temperatures paired with a moonless night will make for ideal observing conditions for faint celestial objects and a great opportunity to share even more astronomical wonders with visitors.

Although total solar eclipses are rarely taken for granted, earthlings millions of years from now will not experience the same exhilaration that we do today. Currently, the Sun and Moon share roughly the same angular size upon our sky despite the huge disparity in their diameters, 865,000 miles and 2,159 miles, respectively. The Sun is 93 million miles away from Earth and the Moon’s average distance is 240,000 miles, making the disks of the Moon and Sun appear to be the same size from our vantage point on Earth. As the Moon continues to drift farther away from us due to Earth’s tidal bulge pushing the Moon into an ever-larger orbit (3-4 cm/year), the disk of the Moon will grow smaller and won’t be large enough to cover the disk of the Sun. Ultimately, only annular or partial eclipses will be possible.

To experience the total eclipse in 2017 one must be within the path of totality notated on the map. Even so, everyone in the continental U.S. will be able to observe a partial eclipse of the Sun during the same time. As a reminder, it is never safe to look directly at the Sun without proper equipment specially designed for and strictly dedicated to viewing the Sun. Pinhole cameras and solar eclipse glasses can provide safe viewing methods at a low cost. For those in the path of totality, it’s only safe to view the eclipse without equipment during full totality when the Moon completely covers the entire disk of the Sun. Contact your local astronomy club, museum, or planetarium to solicit help from skilled volunteers who are properly trained and have telescopes dedicated to solar observing.

Following the 2017 eclipse, the next total solar eclipse in North America will take place in 2024 and will reach landfall in Mexico, track through Texas, the Mid-west, continue north through New York, New England, Maine, and leave the U.S. for Canada into New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Another eclipse will occur in 2044 starting in northern Canada in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, move down through British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and finish in Montana and North Dakota. Another eclipse predicted for August 2045, will take a similar path to the 2017 eclipse, but will track further south, beginning in Northern California and then head eastward to Florida.

Less than two years away, the upcoming total solar eclipse is a monumental experience to add to your life viewing or bucket list, and an exceptional opportunity to witness our solar system perform a rare dance in perfect synchronization.

Clear Skies ~ Carla Johns

Acknowledgement: Eclipse map/figure/table/predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. For more information on solar and lunar eclipses, see Fred Espenak’s Eclipse Web Site: sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html.

Carla Johns Photo for NAI article

Carla Johns, a former telescope operator at Griffith Observatory and Mt. Wilson Observatory, is always looking up and looking forward to sharing the sky with kids of all ages from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 

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2015 and Beyond!

Message from the Director

Greetings and Happy 2015, Region 7!

I hope the New Year is off to a great start for each and every one of you.

2015 marks an election year for Region 7, and I’m pleased to introduce three new officers to the team! Our new Deputy Director is Kimberly Fraser, CIG, who comes to us from the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Northern Colorado. Many of you no doubt have already met Kim and her bandit-faced furry friends at the 2014 NAI National Workshop in Denver. Taking over our financials as Treasurer is Kate German, CIG. Kate is Park Manager at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Our new Secretary is Rebekah McDonald, CIG. A recent graduate of the University of Montana with BA in Photojournalism and Environmental Studies, Rebekah is now looking ahead to pursuing her Masters and doing contract interpretive work (so keep her in mind if you need a talented person for your team!).

And, lastly, there’s me. Yep, you’re stuck with me for another 3 years. I warned you that if no one challenged my nomination, this would happen! Seriously though, I’m honored to serve as Regional Director for a second term, and looking forward to continuing to build and improve our organizational unit. I also want to extend a sincere thank you to our outgoing and new officers—and our larger team—for raising their hand and volunteering. What you guys do means so much to me both as an NAI member and as Regional Director.

Speaking of November’s national workshop in Denver, it was terrific to meet so many of you in person at the event. We had about 75 folks attend our annual business meeting, and our new officers were just a few of the many that signed-up to get more involved.   There were also a lot of fresh faces in the crowd for whom NAI is a very new thing. Aaron Roger, one of the winners of the Dick Taylor Scholarship Fund for 2014, shares his impressions of the event through the eyes of a NIW first-timer later in our next newsletter.

There’s always a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and new ideas circulating at professional conferences like this. Personally, it feels like real ‘shot in the arm’ for me. I get such a kick out of spending time with you guys, being an “interpretation geek” and talking about this stuff.   (Who else is going to talk at length with me such things?) I take that energy back to my work, and what a difference it makes!

So…how do we hang on to that buzz all year long? Well, for one, let’s get together more often! One of the key messages we’re hearing is that our members want to meet up for professional development, networking and socializing – both at the local level and in the form of a larger regional workshop. Mentoring programs (currently in the works at both the national and regional levels) are a great way to connect and share your knowledge and experience with others. Local training events and certification courses—many of which are already in the works across the Region by various groups—present terrific opportunities to meet and engage with your peers.

So, with this in mind, we’re placing renewed emphasis on this aspect for 2015. We’re forming a regional workshop committee, and will be encouraging our State and local chapter reps to organize more local get-togethers for their members. If you’re interested in hosting something at your institution or area, or getting involved with the workshop team, get in touch! Once something is in the works, we can use tools like Region 7’s Facebook page to get the word out.

On that note, I want to present three important goals set for Region 7 in the coming year, and we need your help and participation to make them possible!

  • Organize and host a successful Regional Workshop. Let’s make it as accessible as possible for all of our members to experience and participate in. You can help by being on the organizing committee, presenting a session or just attending the event.
  • Fundraising!   One of the most important and noble things the Region does is provide professional development scholarships for those in financial need. But they don’t pay for themselves. Want to help?   We need a Fundraising Committee Chairperson to organize this effort—and it could be you. For those in their mid/late careers, one could argue this should be you! Consider this a call to “give something back” to our profession and interpretive community.
  • Recognize the creative and dedicated accomplishments of interpreters across the Rocky Mountains with Regional Awards program! There’s some really great work and talent out there, and it’s high time we did a little bragging about it. Wouldn’t you like to be the one to hand out a shiny Golden Moose award? Let’s put together a regional awards committee to make this happen!

I’ve said it before and will likely continue to say it for the next three years (sorry!): NAI is your organization. Step up! Great things will happen, and as a bonus you’ll make some new geeky interpreter friends in the process. Have an idea, want to get involved, or just have a gripe? Contact me at wjbevil(at)gmail(dot)com

I look forward to hearing from you!

William Bevil

Director, NAI Region 7

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News & Bulletins

NAI National Workshop 2014 in DenverNAI2014-logo

The 2014 NAI National Workshop, November 18–22 in Denver, Colorado, will bring interpreters to the foot of the Rocky Mountains for five days of learning, inspiring, and networking. Visit the official conference page for information, program guides, and more. If you’re attending the event, be sure to mark your calendar to attend the Region 7 annual meeting on Wednesday, November 19 from 4-5pm.  See you there!

Message from the DirectorWilliam

It is hard to believe that it’s been three years already, but it (almost) has. The close of 2014 will mark the end of my first term as Director for Region 7. It’s been a terrific experience, and I want to thank each of you for your support and encouragement as we have worked to re-energize the Region. We’ve accomplished a lot, including the successful delivery of a quarterly newsletter filled with great articles, providing regional scholarships for training and development, and launching a new website. With a solid communications infrastructure in place, the Region is well-positioned to deliver additional member services.

But there’s a catch, and it involves you.

Region 7 is managed and directed by four volunteer officers (Director, Deputy Director, Treasurer and Secretary) that comprise the Regional Executive Board. Board members are elected by the voting members of the Region for three-year terms – and all of Region 7’s Executive Board positions are up for nomination. So, in a very real sense, the future of Region 7 hinges greatly on whether the next “generation” of leaders steps up to take the reins. As someone who believes strongly in what NAI Regions do and the important role they fill, I’m hopeful that will happen.

A professional organization like ours is only as strong as its membership, and success depends greatly on the enthusiastic participation of volunteers. As you consider this call to action, also remember the tangible and intangible benefits of getting more involved. For the veterans out there, this is a great way to ‘give something back’ to the interpretive community and NAI. And for those just entering the field, it’s a terrific learning experience and networking opportunity. You will meet and work with terrific and talented people, and have the chance to play a key role in guiding NAI into the future.

If I’ve sparked your interest, please take a look at the job descriptions on the Region 7 website and get in touch. All of our volunteer roles are up for “renewal” (including the Director position) and there are lots of other smaller jobs and projects we are working on as well. I’m happy to tell you more about what’s going on, the time commitments involved, and the process for getting started.

William Bevil
Director, Region 7


Mr. Dick Taylor

Mr. Dick Taylor, Recipient of the Excellence in Interpretive Support Award Winner 2007.

2014 Dick Taylor Scholarship Award

Congratulations to Miriam Shane and Aaron Roger of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, recipients of this year’s Dick Taylor Scholarship Award. Dick Taylor (Excellence in Interpretive Support Award Winner 2007) was a docent and volunteer for the City of Colorado Springs as well as a previous Region 7 Treasurer. Dick passed away late in 2007 and left a $25,000 charitable annuity to fund scholarships to the national workshop for interpreters in El Paso, Freemont and Teller Counties. For more information about this scholarship fund, contact NAIRegion7@gmail.com

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Teaching Outside the Box – CAEE Conference

CAEEJoin the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education at the annual Teaching Outside the Box Conference and awards banquet for the opportunity to connect, share, learn and celebrate the great work and accomplishments of the environmental education community!  Register by Feb 24 for Discounted Early Bird Rates!

Click here for more info & to register

NAI Region 7 is a promotional partner for this conference and will be attending as an exhibitor. We hope you will stop by and say hello!

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News & Updates

Peaks & Valleys Header 2013

In case you missed it, the winter edition of Peaks & Valleys is available here.  This issue marks the last for newsletter editor Amanda Peterson, who has accepted a new job that requires her undivided attention.  Congratulations to Amanda and thank you for your service to Region 7.  Simultaneously, we welcome two new folks to the Region 7 leadership circle. Taking over the Peaks & Valleys editor role is Sharon Tinianow.  Also joining our motley crew is Jessie Foster, who is heading up our Membership Services efforts. Both of our new recruits are from Colorado, and you can read a bit more about them in the newsletter and/or on the “What’s New” section of the website. 

The perennial topic of Regional Workshops is back on our radar. We know you want them, and theleadership team believes they are important. However, we do have some questions to run by you.  Look for a short survey to come your way in the near future specifically aimed at this topic.


We want to remind you that the National Workshop will be held in Region 7 this year. We hope to have a strong presence at the event and we’re looking for volunteers to help organize and run activities. Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more.  Region 7 plans to offer at least one scholarship to the national workshop. Visit the scholarships page to learn more.  See you in Denver!


Last but not least, this is an election year.  The four elected positions (Director, Deputy Direction, Secretary, Treasurer) of the Region 7 Leadership team require nominations.  This isn’t a monarchy, folks.  Some of us have been in these roles a wee bit too long and could probably use a break or at the every least have the opportunity to try a different role on for size. Besides, competition is good!  Get involved and make a difference to the interpretive community that we all love.  We encourage you to raise your hand or nominate someone (they will be sooooo flattered!) that you think would be great at one of these jobs.

~William Bevil (Director, Region 7)




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Denver Metro Area Interpreters Meet-and-Greet

Mark Your Calendar!

Monday, November 18
4:00-7:00 PM

Carson Nature Center South Platte

Hosted by Carson Nature Center at South Platte Park
3000 West Carson Drive
Littleton, CO 80120

Bring your own beverage and a potluck dish to share, and join this casual gathering of interpreters from around the Denver Metro Area and beyond. Feel free to invite colleagues who are new to the profession or who want to learn more about NAI.

RSVP by email to Phil Waltz.  Questions? Call 303-730-1022 x10.

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