Junior Docents

Group of teenagers in a rocky desert landscape, holding their hands up so as to appear to be supporting a large rock above (and behind) them

What is a Junior Docent?

Junior Docents are teen volunteers (ages 13-18) who engage with museum guests, sharing natural history and conservation stories. Junior Docents are trained to help guests at the Museum and at community events better understand, appreciate, and live in harmony with the Sonoran Desert Region. The Desert Museum hosts 16 Junior Docents per year in this one to two-year program. Junior docents meet approximately every other Saturday, with occasional overnight field trips.

Previous Junior Docents have enjoyed discovering their personal conservation ethic, and translating this to their every-day lives. They also have enjoyed deepening their knowledge about science and the natural world, and the possible career paths that they can pursue in the future. Junior Docents show tremendous growth in confidence and skills in public speaking and teaching as well as expanded knowledge and understanding of life and Earth Sciences.

Further Reading (PDF)

What are Junior Docent Responsibilities?

  1. Interpreting natural history themed kits
  2. Presenting live animals (arthropods, mammals & reptiles) to museum guests
  3. Designing experiments and collecting data for museum use
  4. Engaging the public during on-site and off-site programs
  5. Optional quarterly field trips are offered to enhance Junior Docent knowledge and experience

How often do Junior Docents Meet?

Junior Docents make a one or two year commitment (beginning in September and ending in August), volunteering for 7 hours (typically 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) on two Saturdays each month (mostly at the Museum). Additional field trips, campouts and other activities occur throughout the year. Junior Docents are asked to attend each scheduled shift; no more than four absences are permitted.

How can you get involved?

Youth interested in participating in the Junior Docent Program, attend a “New Recruit Adventure Day” on Saturday, August 11, 2018, where both a group and individual interview are held. This position is best suited for youth who have a desire to develop public speaking skills and are interested in learning about nature and conservation, and sharing what they learn with Museum guests. Volunteers in this position must be able to get to and from the Museum and other community events, as the Museum is unable to provide transportation, and there is no public transportation available.

Applicants should be aware that standing for long periods of time is generally part of the position (please let us know if any accommodations need to be made). Preference is shown to applicants who exhibit the following skills during the “New Recruit Adventure Day”: sociability, inquisitiveness, attentiveness to direction/correction, leadership and maturity.

The tuition for a Junior Docent is $200, which covers the cost of uniforms, ongoing training, most camp outs and field days. Payment plans and scholarships are available for students for whom this fee represents a financial hardship.

Join us for a Junior Docent program preview on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 8:45 to 11:00 a.m. Contact Amy Orchard for more details at aorchard@desertmuseum.org or 520-883-3083.

To apply for the Junior Docent Program, please fill out this
volunteer application.

About the Instructor:


Amy Orchard has been an environmental educator since 1992. She has worked at Arches National Park as an interpretive ranger, at numerous river companies throughout the western US as a river guide and as an Education Specialist at the Desert Museum since 2000. Amy also is a registered yoga instructor (RYT 200) and loves teaching all ages and all levels of yoga. She enjoys her position at the museum working with the Junior docent program since 2000 as well as the being the lead coordinator and instructor for the Earth Camp programs since 2005. Amy's own two daughters are now on big adventures of their own, so she looks forward to spending lots of time with other youth. Amy is a certified Wilderness First Responder (many steps above basic first aid certification) and is current in CPR certification. Besides teaching and practicing yoga and working with teens, she enjoys riding her bike over Gates Pass, backpacking with her husband, star gazing and listening to the breeze move through the spines of a saguaro.