Be a Placer Nature Center Docent

Along with fruits and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks, worms, dirt, fresh air, trees, seeds and a caring teacher to lead them through nature...
Share |
"Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. "
- Thomas Berry
Top | Training Schedule | FAQs

Join the team!
Be a Nature Docent

Image: Building pinecone bird feeders Docents are volunteers who help children explore the wonders of nature, the environment, science, history, culture, and native plants, animals, local geology and more! Basically, docents are people who love learning and sharing their knowledge with others. Few things are more satisfying than helping a child learn and grow.

If this sounds like you, then attend our Docent Training Class. Becoming a docent is easy and fun and is a great way to learn about our foothill environment while sharing it with our children and our community.

As a docent you will inspire people to explore and learn, experience the joy when a child's face lights up with discovery, and know that you are making a big difference in the quality of life in our community.

Through Docent Training, you will learn the all the environmental and cultural science programs we share with school children who visit our site on school field trips.

You will build the skills you need to teach these programs to the children yourself! You'll also become part of a wonderful community of friends who volunteer at the Nature Center.

 “Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.”
- Robin C. Moore and Herb H Wong

Image: Placer Nature Center docentsCommunity volunteers who have completed our docent training lead school children (grades pre-school through grade 12) through thematic environmental education programs.

As they teach, Placer Nature Center volunteers link people to their environment and cultivate the child-like delight of discovery within all of us.

Upcoming Schedule

You have options! You can volunteer on the weekends or weekdays, or both if you choose. Weekend docents require 10-hours of training and weekday docents receive 20-hours of trianing.

A fast-track training learning option is available twice a year for weekday docents, so you can start working with the kids quickly, or you can choose the self-paced learning model over a six month period.

The best way to start is by attending an orientation and tour. See schedule below:

Orientation for Weekend Docents:

Sat., Sept. 15 9am - 11am ORIENTATION/TOUR of Placer Nature Center

Orientation for Weekday Docents:

Tue., Sept. 11 9am - 11am ORIENTATION/TOUR of Placer Nature Center

After your orientation, you can choose to attend the fast-track classes (see upcoming scheudle below) or elect to go at your own pace

Weekday Docents Fast-Track Classes*:

Tue., Sept. 11 9am - 11am ORIENTATION/TOUR of Placer Nature Center
Thu., Sept. 13 9am - 12pm Curriculum: SENSES OF WONDER; Preschool, Kindergarten
Tue., Sept. 18 9am - 12pm Curriculum: HABITAT & LIFE CYCLES; 1st, 2nd Grade
Thu., Sept. 20 9am - 12pm Curriculum: MAIDU; 3rd Grade
Tue., Sept. 25 9am - 12pm Curriculum: FOOD CHAINS & ECOLOGY; 4th, 5th Grade
Thu., Sept. 27 9am - 1pm Curriculum: WATERSHED; Pond Paddlers/Stream Swimmers
  12pm - 1pm GRADUATION & POTLUCK!

* If you can't make the Fast-Track classes, other options are available!

Image: Sue, a long-time docent of Placer Nature Center Contact Linda for more information:
or call 530-878-6053 ext. 608

“Looking at life through the eyes of a Daddy long legs: Imagine walking on legs so long you could cover a mile in fifty strides! Imagine looking to either side through eyes set not in your head but in a... hump in your back! Imagine your knees, when you walked, working a dozen feet or more above your head.”

- Edwin Way Teale

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need previous experience?
No, docents come from many different backgrounds and career fields. The main requirements are good communication skills, enthusiasm for working with children, and a curious mind.

Is there an age limit?
People can start docenting as young as 14. Many college students find docenting a wonderful way to add to their own educational experience. Placer Nature Center docents typically span from their twenties to their seventies!

What is the commitment?
We ask Docents to commit to complete the Docent training within 6 months and follow by at least one year of service working with school groups. Docents often volunteer to help the Nature Center with special programs and weekend events.

Can I volunteer in other ways while taking the class?
Yes, there are many volunteer opportunities for Docents-in-training, especially when the Nature Center holds special programs and weekend events.

I have physical limitations, can I still be a docent?
Yes! If you are not able to walk the trail, you can choose to take children on the all-access trail or choose to teach people at a learning station that does not involve using the trail. There are many options - everyone is a welcome and needed member of the team.

What are the benefits of being a Docent?
We are so glad you asked! Besides gaining new friends from all walks of life who share a passion for working with kids and nature, there are some great extra benefits to be a docent!

How do I get started?
Contact Linda Desai to register for training and more information: or call (530) 878-6053 (click to call)


Don't believe us? Ask a docent!

Richard: "Before I retired, I was too busy to take time to smell the roses and look at the trees. Since coming to the Placer Nature Center (as a Docent) I have learned not only to take the time but to pass this newly found information on to the children that visit the center. Working with the children enables me to get the exercise I need ( by walking the trails) and keeps my brain active."

Ignacio: "One of the kids was very shy and reserved and didn't talk at all through the program. But when I gave him the magnifying glass he was engaged and attentive - still not talking but gave me a hug when the program was over."

Many Thanks

Many Thanks to the Arp Family Foundation for making our docent training program possible and ensuring that Placer County's children receive the best environmental and science education possible!