What is a docent?
Our docents are trained volunteers whose primary responsibility is to interpret the Wildflower Center for our visitors. They guide tours, host stations for school group visits, give talks, serve at our courtyard Information Desk, and answer questions throughout our grounds and gardens. Docents are the ambassadors of the Wildflower Center mission.
What does docent training involve?
Docent training is a two-part learning program that combines around 30 hours of classroom and field study with 26 hours of practical experience.
Part I: Classroom and Field Study - Part I of the training program starts on Saturday, January 11. The four-class series will take place on four Saturdays during Jan and Feb from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm: 1/11, 1/18, 2/8 and 2/29.
Part II: Experiential Learning – Part II of the training is the experiential learning component, which gives you the opportunity to apply your new skills in “real life” settings (Information Desk, adult and youth tours, special events – on and off site, etc.) and to work along side our experienced docents. The program allows you to “shadow” our current docents as they perform their duties and later to be “shadowed” by our current docents who will give you feedback. In the end, you will be well trained and ready to fly solo! The Volunteer Services Manager will assist you in scheduling these sessions, which will require approx. 26 hours for completion. Phase II will take place in a flexible format during the week and/or on the weekend around your schedule, to be completed by the end of May.
Phase III: Enrichment – Docent enrichments are offered throughout the year to give volunteers an opportunity to learn more about the natural world around them. Enrichments are typically lectures, nature walks, and talks on specialized topics. Docents are strongly encouraged to participate.
Those who have completed Part I and Part II of training will be certified as docents during a graduation celebration held in late May.
Volunteer Commitment: Minimum of 36 hours/year.
What is the Wildflower Center?
A sharply focused, clearly mission-oriented, impact-measuring, story-telling, nationally-engaged applied-conservation organization, WITH a botanic garden/nature-center destination that is an immersive demonstration of our mission AND an optimized generator of part of the total revenue it takes to meet the overall budget. We research, educate and demonstrate how to conserve and create healthy landscapes, using native plants with innovative visual and ecosystem design. We change the world by educating, inspiring and equipping: professionals, university students, policy-makers, home-owners and children.
Who is a good candidate for docent training?
Anyone with an interest in the natural world and a desire to represent the Wildflower Center is encouraged to take docent training. In fact, we encourage you to invite like-minded friends to take docent training with you! It’s a lot of fun and a great way to spend time with people who enjoy being a part of the Wildflower Center’s programs. There is no expectation that you have previous experience in natural science or education. All you need is a healthy curiosity and a willingness to learn.
What will I learn in docent training?
Core components of the classroom and field lectures include:
Mrs. Johnson’s Legacy – the Center’s history and mission; ecology of the Central Texas Hill Country; native plants; Wildflower Center architecture and landscape architecture; research and programs; interpretive techniques for orienting visitors to the Center; teaching and learning techniques for families; resource skills for assisting visitors on site; and presentation skills for representing the Center.
What is expected of docents following graduation?
Your continued involvement following training is vitally important to the Center’s docent program. To remain in good standing, graduates are required to volunteer three hours per month (or 36 hrs/year) in a docent position* and attend three Docent Enrichments per year. Docent Enrichments are programs designed by our education staff to give you an opportunity to further your study of the natural world.
* Docent positions include: working in the courtyard Information Desk, guiding tours for adults and youth, assisting with educational programming, participating in special events and festivals, and representing the Center at external functions. Many of our docents volunteer in other departments at the Center in addition to their docent requirements.
What is the cost of training?
To cover the cost of speakers and materials, docent training is $100 for members and $150 for non-members. The non-member’s fee includes a one-year individual membership to the Center.
What if I’m interested in the classes offered to docents but don’t want to serve as a docent?
This program is designed solely for the purpose of preparing volunteers to represent the Center in a docent capacity. If you’re not interested in volunteering as a docent or don’t feel you can complete the entire training, please consider other educational opportunities offered by the Center. For a list of classes, seminars, and programs, please visit our website at www.wildflower.org or stop by and pick up one of our monthly calendars.
How do I sign up for docent training?
Please fill out the form below and either mail in a check ($100 for members/ $150 for non-members) to Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin TX 78739 or pay on line here by copying and pasting this link into a new browser window 17442a.blackbaudhosting.com/17442a/Docent-Training-11Jan2020. We will contact you to confirm receipt of your application. Class size is limited and the spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. In the event the class is filled, we will contact you immediately. If you have questions about docent training, please contact Carrie McDonald, Volunteer Services Manager at 232-0102 or email@example.com.