The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to advancing the profession of heritage interpretation, currently serving about 7,000 members in the United States, Canada, and over thirty other nations. Individual members include those who work at parks, museums, nature centers, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, historical and cultural sites, commercial tour companies, and theme parks. Commercial and institutional members include those who provide services to the heritage interpretation industry.
NAI was founded in 1988 from two existing organizations, the Association of Interpretive Naturalists (founded in 1954) and the Western Interpreters Association (founded in 1969). From 1954 to 1988, AIN and WIA operated as two separate professional organizations with offices in Needwood, Maryland, and Sacramento, California, respectively. After merging to form NAI, the office was moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, creating a partnership with Colorado State University’s Department of Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism that provided initial office space. A growing staff required a move to a nearby Victorian house of 900 square feet, though CSU students continue to work in the office as interns and work-study employees. By June 2004, NAI moved into a new 8,400-square-foot office and training facility in the historic Old Town of Fort Collins, Colorado. Although the building is owned by NAI, almost half of that space is leased to other nonprofit organizations.
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