Bringing Iowa’s stories to life: statewide guide training workshop enrolling nows

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Collage of photos of interpretive guides holding certificates of completion for interpretive guide training and certification.

Every Iowa community has a unique culture, and every culture has exceptional stories. Communities can bring those stories to life—if they have the training and tools to do it well. 

Tour guides and volunteers will have the opportunity to hone their skills at the 2023 statewide Guide Training Workshop. 

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) designed this training especially for those who lead guided programs at Iowa’s diverse attractions—including parks and conservation areas, museums, downtown walking tours, historic sites, agritourism, wineries and industry tours—as well as city leaders who provide community tours to prospective new residents. 

CED tourism specialist Diane Van Wyngarden will conduct the one-day workshop on April 18 in the community of Earlham, located in northern Madison County. Participants will learn practical tips and techniques in two key areas:

How to create and deliver dynamic public program.

How to refine your personal presentation skills and engage your audiences.

Individuals who complete this workshop have the optional opportunity to receive Professional Guide Certification from ISU Extension and Outreach at a reduced additional fee. 

This interpretive guide training is the first in the nation to provide onsite coaching and certification sessions at individual programming locations, incorporating applied learning directly into the settings of Iowa’s stories. Improved visitor experiences strengthen local economies by attracting more customers who keep coming back. To date, more than 300 Iowans have completed this training and are telling the stories of 72 Iowa communities.

Funding for this program is provided through a collaborative partnership among ISU Extension and Outreach, Central Iowa Tourism, the Iowa Arts Council/Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The deadline to pre-registration is April 4. The $10 workshop fee includes the course workbook, workshop sessions, and lunch and refreshments. Participants can register online (https://go.iastate.edu/GV1XEU). For more information, contact Central Iowa Tourism at 515-571-3855 or ann@iowatourism.com.