Volunteer - Docents

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Group meets 1st Monday of month @ 2:00 pm for approximately 1.5 hrs, all year excluding July and August. Various topics are covered to assist docents with questions on tours i.e., identifying animal tracks. Once trained, Docents lead or assist with tours at The Arboretum. Docents may require a Police Record's Check completed every 3 years.

The following is a more detailed outline of what docents do as outlined by Susan, one of our docents:

The Docents are a group of volunteers who meet regularly on the first Monday of every month at 2:00 pm at the Arboretum Centre.  Our Organiser is Chris Earley. At our meetings, we spend the first half hour or so discussing our nature sightings of the past month, and then we generally go outside for a walk in The Arboretum, led by Chris, to see or hear some interesting, seasonal happenings. The focus on our walk can vary from seeing birds nesting in the bluebird boxes, (not always bluebirds!), to investigating pond life in the ponds in Wild Goose Woods; from seeing ephemeral spring wild flowers in Victoria Woods, to identifying animal tracks in the snow.

Chris always sparks our interest and shares his knowledge, so that we are primed to learn more for ourselves, and share what we have learned with any tour groups of visitors to The Arboretum grounds. These walks also serve to keep us current with monthly and seasonal events at The Arboretum, such as which plants and trees are blossoming, where to find specific fungi or lichens, what birds have been seen lately at the various feeders, and so on. Leading tour groups is a way of helping The Arboretum to both publicize The Arboretum, and to raise money for its activities.

As Docents, we are also fortunate to be invited to participate in Arboretum Workshops, helping out the presenter, and enjoying the experience. These are great learning opportunities for nature geeks, such as ourselves.

Sometimes volunteer opportunities present themselves in the form of being asked to run a display to publicise the Arboretum at some nature-related event, such as the Nature Guelph 50th Anniversary party, or a nature event at a high school, or a public library. This usually involves a few hours staffing a display booth and talking to interested members of the public. We may hand out brochures, or be able to sell items such as Arboretum booklets or the laminated biodiversity sheets.

There are about 13 Docents at the moment, and at our monthly meetings we are often joined by the Arboretum Interns, who contribute as well. Once a year, we have a Docent Day, when we spend the whole day together, sharing our specific Arboretum interests, and enjoying lunch together.