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Interpretation Support Officer, Westonbirt Project - UK

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Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Location Westonbirt, Tetbury, Glos 
Position Type Full Time 
Salary 20623 - 23777 ( GBP ) 
Closing date for applications  29 January 2013 
Ref 0013-25 

This is a Fixed Term Appointment for 24 months with the possibility for extension or permanency but no guarantee.

Background Information

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is one of the world’s finest collections of trees and shrubs, with over 3000 species and 16,000 specimens growing in 600 acres of beautiful historic Grade I listed landscape.

As well as holding five National Collections (maples, walnuts, limes, bladdernuts and maple cultivars) the site has over 80 champion trees – the largest of their kind in Britain. Famed for its autumn colour the arboretum has over 350,000 visits per year. Our mission is ‘to connect people with trees to improve the quality of life’ by developing programmes that enable all our visitors to appreciate the beauty and wonder of trees and the significance of Westonbirt.

The National Arboretum acts as a half way house between the forest and the trees which people grow in their own gardens, and has an important role in promoting learning about  and participating with tree heritage and landscape heritage to a wider audience.  All staff, whatever their core job description, will come into contact with our visitors during their day to day work, and every staff member has  a role to play in helping our visitors to learn and enjoy their visit to Westonbirt.

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is headed by Director Simon Toomer and has 31 Forestry Commission staff. In addition the site also has an active Friends Charity with over 28,000 members, whose role is to support the Forestry Commission in its management of Westonbirt. There are a number of concessions on site including catering and retailing.


Purpose of the Job

To support delivery of effective interpretation in all its forms that capture visitors’ imagination; ensuring that everyone leaves with a greater appreciation of the site’s tree collection, landscape and environmental heritage, our work in caring for it and the importance of trees both locally and globally in all our lives.

Westonbirt has been fortunate to win funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a significant expansion in their learning and participation activities. This includes the development, delivery and installation of a large amount of new interpretation and orientation material, and this post is primarily designed to assist the Learning and Participation Manager in delivering all this new material over the 24 month period of the post.

There is also a significant expansion in volunteering activity and other learning activity planned as part of the HLF work, and this post holder will be required to be flexible in providing support for other members of the Learning and Participation team as required by these additional workloads, for example support for the Volunteering Manager.


Key Work Areas

Research interpretative methodologies / materials including signage, print, digital and people-led options and select appropriate solutions according to the specifics of each project

Undertake research as necessary into Westonbirt’s heritage and tree collection and   ensure it is archived so that it may be used effectively as required in the future

Develop stories and imaginative text/presentation. Work with designers, exhibition builders, artists and more to develop and deliver inclusive interpretation; on brand, on message, on time and on budget

Develop layered interpretation that links directly to our identified target audiences, their needs and learning preferences

Be creative and think outside the box – use images, written text and the spoken word to create stories that fire the imagination of all our visitors so that they gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Westonbirt and our work

Develop people-led interpretation by working with the Learning and Participation team to ‘up-skill’ existing volunteer teams such as the guides

Monitor new interpretation to ensure it remains fit for purpose and of the highest standard. Specifically to be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Welcome Building interpretation and volunteers manning its information desk

Work with our visitors to ensure we understand what makes them tick and how they use Westonbirt


Person Specification


Formal qualification in a environmental or interpretation subject or relevant experience in an interpretation role.
Design knowledge EG experience of developing or amending designs in Adobe creative suite

Experienced user of Microsoft applications
Experience of digital technology and its use in interpretation
Proven experience and successful track record in delivering interpretation in an environmental or museum setting
Experience of creative interpretative writing

Professional & Technical Expertise

Understanding of elements for good design

Understanding of interpretation theory, visitor experience models and use of different media

Demonstrable interest in trees, horticulture and current environmental issues including climate change

Work with Other People
Encourage and display attitudes and behaviours which respect and value diversity
Be reliable and flexible within the team 

Be approachable, open, polite and helpful to others
Provide a service that meets customer/stakeholder needs

Ensure staff work together to review and improve customer services


Present facts in a clear, concise and imaginative way

Choose content, style and language to suit the audience and context

Use the most appropriate means of communication

Actively listen and ask questions to check understanding
Project a positive image when representing the FC

Deliver Results

Prioritise and organise your time and resources effectively to meet agreed deadlines and objectives

Demonstrate drive and determination to complete task

Make appropriate use of technology and equipment to achieve results
Learn and Apply

Take responsibility for own work, learning from experience, mistakes and constructive feedback

Look for ways to improve how you work, make suggestions for and be open to change

Keep knowledge and skills for the job up to date


Additional Information

Applications will be received up until 11.59pm on the closing date.

As a Government Department, the Forestry Commission is currently subject to the Civil Service Pay Freeze

Click here for Useful Information for Candidates.

If you have any queries regarding our application process please contact


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