The Desert Museum Docents
Photo credit ASDM/Bob Henderlong
Who are Docents?
Docents are trained volunteers whose primary responsibility is to engage visitors on the Museum grounds to better understand and appreciate the Sonoran Desert region. Docents are adults of all ages, walks of life and educational backgrounds. There are currently over 200 docents volunteering once per week or more at the Museum.
A docent's primary responsibility is interpretation on the Museum grounds. Such interpretation consists of leading tours, live animal interpretations, interpreting at a cart or exhibit and supporting museum special events.
The Museum requires a minimum two-year commitment to the Docent Program. To maintain active status, docents are required to donate a minimum of 144 hours of interpretation per year on the Museum grounds. Docents are also required to attend Advanced Desert Classes (the first Wednesday of each month from September-May) and attend other required training and workshops scheduled throughout the year.
How can you get involved?
If you are interested in joining the next docent training class (scheduled for the fall of 2017) please fill out and submit an online application. If you're having trouble accessing the online application, please print this application form (PDF) and mail it to Allison Miller (Volunteer & Internship Programs Manager) at: 2021 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ 85743. You will be contacted in the spring of 2017 for an interview; however, if you’re looking to get involved prior to the next training, please take a look at the Museum’s current volunteer opportunities.
Please view the class schedule so you can mark your calendars early!
When applying for the Docent Program, please be aware that you must be a current member of the Desert Museum; more information on becoming a member can be viewed here. Please also be aware that there is an enrollment fee for the Docent Program that trainees are responsible for, prior to the beginning of the course; pricing is itemized below:
- Natural History of the Sonoran Desert 2nd Edition Text: $32
- Docent Training Manual: $30
- Docent Handbook: $25
- Administration Fee: $43
- Field Trip & Lunch: $20
*Uniforms are worn by docents after they graduate and consist of khaki pants and a white shirt; patches are included in the enrollment fees. If the fees for becoming a docent do not fit into your current budget, accommodations can be made.
What is Docent training like?
Photo credit ASDM/Bob Henderlong
Trainees meet at the Museum for a four hour class, two weekday mornings each week for fifteen weeks (some classes are all day sessions). The first week consists of four morning orientation sessions that cover the museum’s history and mission, interpretation and customer service. The classes are taught by Museum curatorial staff and educators. The curriculum is coordinated by the Associate Director of Conservation Education & Science, Marie Long, and focuses on desert ecology, geology, botany, entomology, mammalogy, ornithology, herpetology, people of the Sonoran Desert and ecological concepts.
The course is taught in the Museum's Education Annex classrooms and on the museum grounds. Trainees are required to spend time on the Museum grounds, observing docent interpretations, co-interpreting and completing written assignments. Trainees must complete all assignments, receive passing scores on the mid-term and a final exam and successfully lead a desert discovery tour and saguaro interpretation. Trainees are expected to attend all classes. They may miss no more than three sessions, and these must be made up. Upon successful completion of the course, trainees attend a graduation ceremony and receive diplomas as they are welcomed into the Museum family.