Interpretation and Visitor Services (local)

Expected Dates
September 1, 2014 to November 22, 2014
Governors Island National Monument
Position ID

This position is located at Governors Island National Monument, New York City, New York, which preserves and interprets two forts of the late 1700s and early 1800s built to protect the city. An army post and Coast Guard base from 1794 until 1996, the historic structures on the island are being redeveloped and for the moment the island is a popular summer time destination to experience the work of many island partners staging art exhibits and art festivals, outdoor sculpture, food festivals; or enjoy on their own to ride a bike, picnic, play ball or relax away from the city. It attracts nearly 500,000 visitors, mostly from the city, between May and September. The monument staff tells the story of the ecology of the harbor, why it was important to the growth of the city and the nation and why it needed protection by the forts on the island. We go on to tell the story of the military history of the island and how reflects the mission and challenges faced by the Army in protecting the nation from 1794 to 1966. We even go further with living history to show how soldiers lived and the tools of their trade.

Working here involves being in a team-oriented environment to plan and present public and educational programs, including multi-media presentations, structured and impromptu talks, and presenting guided tours and programs to schools, community groups, and special interest groups. The intern in this position participates in the day-to-day operation of a spring/summer seasonal interpretive program at a historic site, assist in providing interpretive, educational and operational services including operating a visitor contact station, monitoring special use permits, and maintaining good relations with partner organizations and stakeholders.

Providing quality visitor experiences – You may assist with or present formal and informal orientation talks, historically- or naturally-themed education programs, lectures, multimedia presentations, living history programs and/or historic weapons demonstrations, basic guided walking tours, and outreach programs about the military, social, economic, and ecological significance of Governors Island and New York Harbor for varied urban audiences and specialized groups. You help visitors enjoy their experience while on Governors Island with basic information, direction, and guidance be they here for the history, the recreation, the festivals or just to relax.
Conducting and application of basic research – You get to conduct basic research using prepared primary and secondary sources to gain a personal understanding of the military, social, ecological and environmental history of New York Harbor and Governors Island, as well as current issues affecting the harbor ecology and the waterfront development. Next you take that information and individually or as a team, assist with or develop interesting and visually attractive interpretive content to create guided walking tours, talks, multimedia presentations, living history demonstrations, web content, fliers, and brochures to foster visitor understanding and appreciation for the monument’s resources and stories. We’ll show you how using interpretive techniques (such as metaphors, storytelling, or analogies) to help you help visitors make intellectual and/or emotional connections between their interests and their surroundings.
Dealing with the public – You serve as a front-line representative of the island, the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association to greet visitors and answers questions. You will get to deal with the public, school groups and park partner organizations with understanding, friendliness, courtesy, tact, empathy, concern and politeness. “The public” can include individuals who are distressed, confused, frustrated, difficult or even hostile. There is the opportunity to relate effectively to people from varied cultural backgrounds and different situations and is sensitive to diversity, race, gender, religion, disabilities, and other individual differences. We encounter island visitors at our information center/bookstore, while roving or on patrols, or in offices in person, via telephone, mail, e-mail or new and social media venues such as Twitter, Flickr, or Facebook.
Operating an historic site – You’ll get to work effectively individually and in a team with supervisors and peers using established guidelines. You’ll  staff a visitor contact station as well as two historic forts and informally rove throughout the island informing visitors personally or by telephone and new and/or social media platforms about park facilities, programs, nearby visitor services, attractions on the island and in Lower Manhattan and about the National Park System and Service. You help in providing a safe environment for staff and visitors, educate visitors regarding rules, regulations, and safety concerns to ensure compliance, as well as direct customers with problems, questions, or complaints to appropriate park staff. You might assist in medical or other emergencies up to level of training.  You may staff sales outlet at park bookstore/visitor contact station, operating a cash register and conducting retail transactions, completing out daily reports to account for sales.

  • The National Park Service and the Trust for Governors Island jointly administer the 172 acres of Governors Island, located a half-mile south of Lower Manhattan in New York Harbor. The Trust, a non-profit city agency, is redeveloping 150 acres of the island, including a 90-acre National Historic Landmark District consisting of military residential and administrative buildings dating back to 1815 for cultural, recreational and educational uses.
    The National Park Service (NPS) administers 22 acres of the island, preserving two historic fortifications, Fort Jay (1794) and Castle Williams (1807). The NPS interprets the rich and diverse social, environmental, economic and military history of the monument, surrounding historic district and the City of New York. The primary visitor experience is by talks, living history demonstrations, informal roving interpretive opportunities, children’s programming and guided walking tours of the former U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard base that dates back to the 1790s and was important to the defense of New York from 1800 to 1996. Other programming such as living history and the visual and performing arts is accomplished through partnerships with non-profit organizations.
  • Basic techniques in interpretation. Historic weapons demonstration. Basic sales and retailing.
  • The intern is provided an introduction to the organization and logistics of a park interpretive and visitor service operation at a busy urban NPS site. Speaking and writing for an audience develop interpersonal communication skills.
Main Area of Focus
Education and Interpretation
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Social Sciences
some coursework or experience
some coursework or experience
some coursework or experience
Customer Service
some experience
Social Media
some experience
some experience
Public Speaking
some experience
some experience