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Freeman Tilden


Have you ever taken a tour at a national park or historical museum? The person giving the tour was likely an interpreter, someone trained in understanding and sharing the history or special features of a place. A good interpreter can help visitors see the value and beauty of a particular place, time, and event.

Freeman Tilden loved learning, teaching, writing, and nature. He was one of the first interpreters of national parks and he wrote very important books on these subjects.

Fun Facts

  • Freeman Tilden was born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1883. His father owned a newspaper.
  • Tilden loved nature. He visited many national parks and museums.
  • He also had a flair for writing. One of his first jobs was as a book reviewer for his father’s newspaper.
  • Later, he became a newspaper reporter, working in Boston and New York.
  • He started writing fiction and became internationally known for his stories and plays.
  • In 1951, he published a nonfiction work, The National Parks: What They Mean to You and Me. That book changed the direction of his career. He left off writing fiction and began writing exclusively about the national parks and interpreting them. His book, Interpreting Our Heritage, is still used today by interpreters.

Questions and Answers

Question: What do national parks interpreters do?

Answer: National parks interpreters take on many roles. They offer tours to the public, develop education programs, and even create brochures and other publications. They usually have a bachelor’s degree in ecology, wildlife management, history, geology, archaeology, or a related discipline. Park rangers’ salaries vary, depending on their responsibilities and the size of the park. On the low end, inexperienced rangers with limited responsibility earn around $35,000 per year. Experienced rangers working in large parks earn as much as $115,000.

Learn More

Many communities offer junior ranger programs for kids and teens.



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