Museum volunteers go back to school
Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: (907) 474-6941
"You don't need teaching experience to be a museum docent," says Jennifer Arseneau, the museum's education program leader. "What's really important is that the volunteers love learning about Alaska and want to share their enthusiasm with kids."
This fall, the docents will lead programs on Alaskan art (all elementary grade levels), Alaska's animals (kindergarten and first grade), maps and their uses (grades 2-3), Athabascan culture (grades 3-4) and the aurora (grades 5-6). All the programs use the museum's exhibits and hands-on activities to complement the students' classroom lessons. In addition to leading organized school tours, the volunteers also assist elementary, middle and high school groups visiting the museum on self-guided tours. Docents typically volunteer at the museum for one to three hours each week throughout the semester.
The museum has offered docent-led tours for school groups since 1981. While the museum has full-time staff to manage its educational programs, the docent-led tours depend almost entirely on volunteers. Approximately 25 docents, usually a mix of new volunteers and returning docents, lead programs each semester. While the volunteer pool includes retired educators and UAF students just starting on their education career, the vast majority of the volunteers don't come from a background in education.
Thanks to a four-year, $150,000 partnership with Flint Hills Resources, the museum is able to offer free admission for school groups participating in docent-led tours. During the 2006-07 school year, the program reached more than 2,100 local elementary school students. The docent-led school tours are scheduled on an allotment basis, with public and private elementary schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough receiving a specified number of school tours slots.
Individuals interested in volunteering for the museum's docent program can contact the museum education department at 474-6948.
More information on the museum docent program is available in a UAF web feature story online at http://www.uaf.edu/news/featured/06/docent/.
CONTACT: University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator Kerynn Fisher at (907) 474-6941 or (907) 378-2559.