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Museum volunteers go back to school

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: 907-474-6941


Each year, as Fairbanks-area school children settle into the new school year, volunteer docents at the University of Alaska Museum of the North are also going back to school.

This fall's volunteer docent training begins on Monday, Aug. 31 and runs through Friday, Sept. 11. The free program is open to anyone interested in volunteering to lead school tour programs at the museum. No prior teaching experience is necessary.

While the museum has full-time staff to manage its educational programs, the docent-led tours depend almost entirely on volunteers. The docent-led tours use the museum's exhibits and hands-on collections to teach elementary school students about Alaska's animals, Athabascan culture, the aurora and Alaska art.

The museum's volunteer docents work in four- and five-person teams, with new volunteers teamed with veteran docents. Volunteers commit to one morning a week for the semester.

The museum has offered docent-led tours for school groups since 1981. Thanks to a partnership with Flint Hills Resources, the museum is able to offer free admission for school groups participating in docent-led tours. During the 2008-09 school year, the program reached more than 1,900 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 907-474-5360 or via e-mail at museum.education@uaf.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kerynn Fisher, University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator, at 907-474-6941 or 907-378-2559.