Borrego Sun - Since 1949

By Martha Deichler
BSUSD School Community Liaison 

BSHS Offers the Only Such Class in the U.S.


Last updated 8/4/2021 at 8:59am

Moses Garcia

Borrego Springs High School senior, Moses Garcia, was clearing the table at his new job at the Propeller Bar & Grill a few weeks ago, when a customer asked him, "What's there to do and see in Borrego Springs?" Realizing that this man was a tourist, Moses jumped into high gear, excited to use the new skills he recently learned from a class offered at Borrego Springs High School entitled CIH/CIG (Certified Interpretive Host/ Guide) – the only high school in the US to offer this class from NAI – the National Association of Interpreters. To clarify, it is not about interpreting from English to Spanish, although Moses is bilingual. It is about interpreting your "special" place to visitors in a manner that is engaging, stimulating and informative.

Moses put all of his learned skills into action within a few seconds! He smiled broadly, expressed his excitement about this place he calls home and even alerted his guests that he had just completed a class to address this. They listened attentively as he spoke about places, statues, hikes, views, drives, Native American sites, Visitor's Center and more with enthusiasm and knowledge. The tourists were impressed and left in awe that a 17-year-old could be so informed and excited about the place where he lives. They assured him that they would be visiting and enjoying all of his ideas and suggestions within the next few days.

This scenario will be repeating itself over the next few years as dozens of our Borrego High School students graduate from this class and take their newly found skills into the community where they work part-time as servers, bussers, housekeepers, front desk receptionists, gardeners and more. Upon graduating from high school, the hope is that some will follow their career callings into the local field of interpretation and land careers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Foundation, ABDNHA, Bike Borrego, California Overland Tours or the Chamber of Commerce as Interpreter Hosts and Guides.

Incredible opportunities like this do not happen without some creative thinkers. James Dion, Executive Director of the Borrego Village Association, is the brain behind offering the class to our Juniors and Seniors as part of a workforce development plan for Borrego Springs. In light of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the focus of economic activity in Borrego will inevitably be shifting and new forms of work need to be found in order to maintain our population base. Supporting the tourism sector of Borrego's economy is a natural evolution while we hope to keep some of our young people here in Borrego and gainfully employed.

Working in partnership with the Borrego Springs Unified School District and the National Association of Interpreters, James Dion located funding for this program from sectors who saw the value and possibilities of this unique program: Borrego Springs Unified School District, San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Borrego Springs Rotary, Borrego Springs Civic Foundation, Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, Borrego Water District and donations from the Borrego Village Association's Officers and Directors. In fact, this aforementioned group is responsible for the purchase of a pair of hiking shoes for each student in the class in order to promote a lifelong love of hiking in ABDSP.

As one student from this past year's class stated, "This class really helps you with communication with others and helps build up your confidence". She will be following up in her senior year with a weekly internship program in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park's six areas of work: Interpretive, Maintenance, Administration, Cultural, Natural Resources and Visitors' Services. Partnering with ABDSP Administrators Terry Gerson and Dennis Stephen, our students with CIH/CIG Certificates will intern in the various departments within the Park in order to gain a better understanding of the type of work available within the Park system.

NAI Certified Trainer and instructor for this class, Dave Duncan (Bike Borrego), sighs as he reflects on this past challenging school year with COVID-19 restrictions and (unreliable) online learning. In spite of a less than perfect teaching and learning situation, his 18 students were successful in passing a literature review test on the history and principles of interpretation, preparing successful oral presentations, participating in field trips throughout the Park with Certified Interpreters as guides and engaging with guest speakers from local places of hospitality and recreation.

Our students have gained life-long skills that will serve them well in any type of employment: public speaking with clear and effective communication, customer service and listening. In addition, each student now possesses two professional level accreditations from NAI: Certified Interpretive Host and Certified Interpretive Guide.

While Borrego Springs is the gateway community to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs High School offers a path through this gateway to exciting and fulfilling careers in the Park and beyond for our students. Perhaps some will stay in Borrego and make this "special" place their home. Oh, wouldn't that be lovely!

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