Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers two ways to volunteer, each with different duties and different training requirements.
One is the docent program that requires completing a comprehensive training program, focusing mainly on the natural sciences.
The other is a volunteer program that requires only brief training in the Reserve rules and regulations.
There is a difference in the duties of the docent versus the volunteer.
The primary activities of docents include:
- Leading public nature walks,
- Serving in the children’s education program
- Staffing the Lodge Visitor Center/Museum and the Trailhead Information Kiosk (TIK).
- Special projects such as working on publications, stocking the Museum Shop, organizing special events, etc.
See below for the link to more info and the docent application.
The primary duties of volunteering are maintenance related:
- Trail and surface maintenance, fence and general repair with a group called Seabees
- Removal of non-native, invasive plants with a group called Whacky Weeders
- Peñasquitos Lagoon weeding and restoration
- Beach cleanup and Reserve cleanup
Please contact the Reserve staff for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals and groups are welcome to volunteer.
The Torrey Pines Docent Society
Docent Society History
Organized in March, 1975, Torrey Pines Docent Society is one of the oldest volunteer groups in the California State Park System. By December 1977, the group was incorporated as a non-profit organization. Every year docents provide hundreds of hours of service to thousands of visitors. Special projects have included publishing books, postcards, and a flower brochure; maintaining an interpretive garden; and providing programs for school children. In 1991, the State Park System named the Society “Volunteer Organization of the Year.”
What does ‘docent’ mean?
The word docent comes from the Latin docere, meaning to teach, inform, or tell. Many organizations train docents to assist with their programs.
Docents are specifically trained volunteers who interpret the cultural and natural resources of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to visitors. Individuals who enroll in docent programs embark upon a rigorous course of study and training that provides a strong foundation of expertise for explaining those resources to visitors. To that foundation, the docent is encouraged to add his or her unique, individual approach and experiences. One of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a docent is the opportunity for ongoing education.
What services do Torrey Pines docents provide?
- Lead nature walks
- Staff the Visitor Center
- Educate children
- Work on special projects, such as bird counts, planting seedlings, removing exotic plants.
- Issue a newsletter – the Torreyana
- Prepare interpretive publications
Who can become a docent?
Any person 18 years or older who is capable of leading nature walks and/or staffing the Visitor Center is qualified to take training to become a docent.
How can one apply to become a docent?
Docent training classes begin in late February or early March and are held most Saturday mornings through May. Please check back in September when we will begin accepting applications. There will be a link here.
Click here to see a short video about being a docent: vimeo.com/30461879
Here is a newsletter describing a docent’s experience: Recruitment Newsletter (pdf)
What are the benefits of being a docent?
- Learning about and enjoying nature
- Meeting world-wide visitors
- Associating with other nature lovers
- Receiving a discount on items in Visitor Center/Museum Shop
- Use of docent library
- Monthly newsletter
- Networking with other docent groups