The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History docent program offers unique opportunities to communicate science and history to school groups, families, and diverse public audiences. Volunteers in this program work with staff from the School & Teacher Engagement or the Public & Youth Engagement departments to learn, practice, and implement programs in a variety of possible content areas.
Those accepted into the Museum docent program have the opportunity to sharpen communication skills, build content knowledge, and will learn how to share complex information in dynamic ways. In addition to in-depth training, you will be invited to attend special volunteer enrichment workshops and behind-the-scenes tours. You can also request reference letters from supervisors, and may be eligible to receive university internship credit. Graduate and undergraduate students in biology, earth science, and social sciences are encouraged to apply.
APPLICATIONS are reviewed on a rolling basis. Selected applicants will be invited to group interviews. Primary assignments are made post training.
DOCENT ORIENTATION AND TRAINING will take place periodically, generally in the fall, and is required for all new docents. Docents must attend all four workshops in the training sequence.
Topics for these trainings include:
Session 1: Orientation to the Peabody Museum
Session 2: Science Communication
Session 3 & 4: Content Training (arranged with supervisor)
SHADOWING is the process of observing and learning from a more practiced staff member or volunteer. You will have opportunities to shadow staff members to become comfortable with your presentation and program content. You may shadow as often as you like, and request certification when you feel ready.
CERTIFICATION on each program will take place at the end of the shadowing period. Your supervisor will observe your presentation and complete an assessment of your performance.
COMMITMENT of a minimum of eight to twelve months and 50 volunteer hours, however longer commitments are encouraged. We also ask that all volunteers sign-up for at least one special event or outreach event during each academic year, such as Fiesta Latina or Summer’s Last Roar.
School Program Docents will be trained to facilitate one or more of three 45-minute education workshops; Dinosaurs, Rocks and Minerals, and Animal Adaptations. Through dynamic, hands-on interactions, classes of up to 20 children in grades K-8 learn about natural history and our world. Docents should be enthusiastic, comfortable in front of groups, and interested in working with young children. Programs occur on weekday mornings.
Tour Guide Docents work on weekends and on our Pay-As-You-Wish Thursday afternoons to provide visitors in-depth explorations of our exhibitions. These tours focus on one of three museum themes: Dinosaurs and Fossils; Habitats and Adaptations; and Anthropology. Tours may also be developed for the Museum’s special temporary exhibitions. Tours generally take place on weekends and afternoons.
QUESTIONS or READY TO APPLY? For more information about how to join the docent program as a volunteer, or for information about volunteering in general, click here.