Those interested can attend online open house on Sept. 13

Staff Report

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is hosting an online open house from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 13 for people of all ages and backgrounds with a passion for science to join its corps of volunteer educators. 

Volunteers will help share science literacy and empower the next generation of Earth’s stewards by facilitating school programs, leading tours, and interpreting interactive exhibits.

“When I’m here, I feel that I make a difference,” said docent Glenn Grayson. “I think everybody here feels that way.”

Grayson has been teaching at the museum for five years, experiencing the range of training and duties available to docents. He has seen how the challenges of educating during the pandemic forced the museum and its volunteers to adapt.

“I think the museum is very resilient,” he said. “We’ve opened and closed, and opened and closed, and still, the integrity of the museum is there, because of the people.” 

The museum and its educators invested in technology and skills that carried their messages about science, nature and culture far from the Mission Canyon campus. Select educators can volunteer from home and reach students all over the world by leading the museum’s virtual field trips, but the core of docent work remains interacting in person with guests and students.

“If you just get one person, they find out something they didn’t know — sometimes it’s simple, like the fact that there’s scientific equipment on Mars or that we had mammoths here — it’s worth it for that ‘a-ha’ moment. That’s why we’re here,” Grayson said.

In addition to interpreting science, docents raise public awareness of the Chumash cultural heritage of the region, and how living Chumash descendants are carrying their culture into the future.

Becoming a docent requires no prior experience, although volunteers who are proficient in more than one language (especially bilingual English/Spanish) come with bonus communication skills that are appreciated by the museum’s guests.

With training opportunities like workshops with curators and other experts, docents can deepen their understanding and appreciation of the region, the planet and the universe. “If you’ve always liked the natural world and wanted to know more about it, being a docent is a great experience,” said Grayson. 

There is no cost to participate, and docents receive free passes to the museum.

Learn more about the program and sign up for the 10 a.m. Zoom open house at

 New docents commit to attending training classes from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays, Sept. 20, 2021, through June 13, 2022. In addition to the Monday trainings for new docents, the work commitment for all education volunteers working with school programs is one weekday morning per week from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Scheduling is flexible.