Historic Downtown Mackinac – Lead Interpreter

Department: Museum Programs
Locations: Historic Downtown Mackinac and Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island
Start/End Date: early May-early June through August/mid-October
Positions vary from 12 weeks to 23 weeks.
Pay Rate: Starting at $14/hr

Click here to fill out an application.

Scope of Duties:
This position serves visitors to Mackinac State Historic Parks by working as a lead costumed historical interpreter on Mackinac Island.  The historic downtown interpretive team staffs the Biddle House, Dr. Beaumont Museum and Fort Mackinac on a daily basis and the McGulpin House and Benjamin Blacksmith Shop on a weekly or occasional basis.

The goal of the lead is to supervise the historic house interpreters to ensure they provide an outstanding experience for the public visiting Mackinac State Historic Parks.  The lead will also help direct the interpreters in presenting an accurate depiction of historic life.

Supervisory Responsibilities:
The lead HDI will put our visitors first by treating them as respected guests and serving their needs.  In addition to working as a front-line interpreter, the lead HDI is responsible for the following:

Train Historic Downtown Interpreters:

  1. Assist in training new staff in interpretive and demonstration activities.
  2. Assist in orientation program.
  3. Assist in coordinating on-going seasonal training for all historic house interpreters.

Supervision of Historic Downtown Interpreters:

  1. Oversee and direct daily work of staff. Assist in final evaluation forms and performance review for all historic house interpreters.
  2. Develop daily demonstration schedule and bi-monthly work schedules. Work closely with guest services, Fort Mackinac guide and blacksmith staff to cover all program needs.
  3. Communicate frequently with curator of education about daily operations, program status, and staff performance.

Oversee Interpretive Support Activities:

  1. Assist curator of education with daily interpretive program and special event planning. Coordinate HDI staff participation in interpretive program planning.
  2. Coordinate food and kitchen supply purchases.
  3. Provide curator of education with list of supply needs for demonstrations, costuming, programs, etc.
  4. Monitor equipment and buildings for condition, use and safety. Give special attention to fire safety concerns.

Historic House Interpreter Responsibilities:

Mackinac Island Downtown Buildings Responsibilities:
The historic downtown lead interpreter is responsible for staffing and interpreting four historic buildings on Mackinac Island: McGulpin House, Biddle House and Indian Dormitory.

  1. Greet each visitor as they enter the building and interpret the history of the structure, the people associated with it, and the historic island community.
  2. Work with other historic house interpreters and scouts to create a welcoming and positive experience for visitors.
  3. Provide lunch relief for downtown staff including the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop.
  4. Participate in special events.
  5. Demonstrate food ways and other domestic skills at the Biddle House.
  6. Perform opening and closing duties, which includes set-up, some cleaning, securing the building at the end of the day, and reporting attendance numbers.

Benjamin Blacksmith Shop Responsibilities:
The historic downtown lead interpreter is responsible for the interpretation of the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop during lunches and for an occasional work-day.  Work area includes the Blacksmith Shop (indoors).

  1. Greet each visitor as they enter the shop and interpret the history of the building and the people associated with it.
  2. Demonstrate blacksmithing techniques, mainly on lunch breaks and the regular blacksmith’s days off.

Fort Mackinac Responsibilities:

The historic downtown lead interpreter is responsible for interpreting the non-military garrison life of Fort Mackinac in the 1880s.  The primary work areas are the Hill Quarters (indoor) and the west-end of the fort (outdoor).

  1. Greeting visitors to the Hill Quarters and meeting interpretive objectives. This is done by interpreting the history of the civilian members of the fort community with an emphasis on family, domestic and community life and using the period environments to introduce and reinforce interpretive objectives.
  2. Conducting children’s programs as scheduled in conjunction with site walking tours, including setup and securing of program materials.
  3. Monitoring the Kids’ Quarters exhibit on a daily basis and cleaning/repairing costumes as needed.

Position Requirements:

  1. Must have worked one season as a historic downtown interpreter.
  2. Must be 18 years or older as of start date of employment.
  3. Must have an interest in historical interpretation and willingness to learn historic domestic skills.
  4. Must be able to work 13 to 14 weeks, from early June through August.
  5. Must have strong public speaking skills, a “visitor first” attitude, flexibility and be enthusiastic.

Work Location and Schedule:

The historic downtown lead interpreter (HDI) works in the downtown historic buildings and at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, although the employee may be asked to work at other MSHP sites as required.  Work sites include the buildings (indoor) and their yards (outdoors) with some walking between building sites (outdoors).  This position will generally work 40-hours per week; the employee may be required to work overtime, evenings, holidays and/or weekends.  Days and hours of work will vary depending on the position and site location.  Work schedules are posted in advance and are subject to change depending on park operational needs.

Physical Requirements:

Stretching and bending are moves commonly made throughout the day by employees in this position.  The employee must have the ability to do the following activities, with or without reasonable accommodation:  frequent lifting, carrying, transporting, loading and unloading of up to 35 lbs., walking long distances and up steep inclines in all weather conditions, frequent twisting, bending, stooping, reaching and grasping, and sitting and/or standing for long periods of time.  This position will be exposed to extreme heat conditions within the blacksmith shop, historic buildings and on the parade grounds; individual must be able to work in this type of environment.

Dress Code:
MSHP maintains a dress code for employees in the public service to promote a productive and safe work environment and to maintain MSHP’s public image. This means no inappropriate hairstyles, jewelry, clothing or fashion statements are allowed. Employees are required to be in approved park costume at all times while on duty, which includes the wearing of proper footwear. MSHP will furnish the employee with the required costume items which must be returned at the end of seasonal employment. Violation of the dress code may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

This position acts as the lead for the historic downtown interpreters.  The employee works under the direction of the Chief Curator and Interpretive Assistant.

General Position Information:
This is a temporary seasonal at-will position which serves at the will of the employer and does not include recall rights or benefits (other than those mandated by governmental laws).  This position will expire at the time employment is ended for the season and the employee does not have recall rights to this or any other MSHP position in the future.  Specifically, the park is under no obligation to hire the individual in subsequent seasons.  The number of weeks and hours worked may vary as park needs dictate.   Additional information will be provided upon employment.

Due to the high volume of applications, only those applicants invited to interview will be contacted.

Click here to fill out an application.

Questions or cannot apply online?
Please contact:

P.O. Box 873
Mackinaw City, MI 49701
231-436-4100 x111


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