Audubon Canyon Ranch has long recognized that nature education is a community process. Through an integrated program structure unique among outdoor education organizations, ACR Nature Education relies on its Docent, Ranch Guide and Host volunteers to deliver both our School and Public programs. Volunteers, in turn, receive comprehensive science-based training and lifelong learning opportunities

Join us! Docent Training at the Martin Griffin Preserve begins September 7, 2016. See below for more information about upcoming orientation hikes.

"I most enjoy the look on a visitor's face when they share an insight they gained while walking through the woods or perching on an overlook with a spotting scope. A sense of wonder is a rare thing. It can happen from simply seeing the pale blue color of an egret's egg for the first time, or seeing creatures emerge from pond water under a hand lens or microscope."  - An ACR Ranch Guide


ACR Docents

Docents of the Bouverie and Martin Griffin preserves are devoted, enthusiastic nature-lovers who wish to help connect schoolchildren with the magic and mystery of the natural world through ACR's School Program. Docents bring nature into classrooms and guide children in exploring the wonders of our preserves. 

An antidote to Nature Deficit Disorder as described by author Richard Louv, the School Program provides docent-led, experiential nature hikes to elementary school students in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. The nature hikes allow students to experience nature in small groups (1:6 docent to student ratio). ACR Docents often inspire a life-long love and appreciation of nature in the children they meet. 

"I love this program! It affords a unique opportunity to share nature with children on a substantial hike, sometimes for the first time in their young lives. I love seeing that spark of wonderment that shows up frequently upon holding a newt or observing birds or examining scat on the trail."  An ACR Docent

Martin Griffin Preserve Docents

ACR Docents of the Martin Griffin Preserve teach 4th and 5th graders about the natural history of coastal Marin. Docents might teach students about banana slugs, Great Egrets or the ecology of redwoods. Training takes place every two years. The next training class will take place on 24 Wednesdays from September 7, 2016 - March 2017, and applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
Sign up online, -or- Print and fill out this PDF form and send it to: Docent Training Program, Audubon Canyon Ranch, 4900 Shoreline Highway One, Stinson Beach CA 94970.

Interested? Please sign up to attend an orientation on any of the following dates:

  • April 7
  • April 23
  • May 5
  • May 21
  • June 2
  • June 18
  • July 14
  • August 20

Or, contact the Education team at 415.868.9244 ext. 110

Learn more: Download the brochure (pdf)

Bouverie Preserve Docents 

Bouverie Preserve Docents teach 3rd and 4th graders about the natural history of the Sonoma Valley and inspire the next generation of nature enthusiasts while spending time in nature. Docents teach students about native plants, spider web-building habits, newt migration, native peoples and so much more. The next Bouverie Preserve Docent training will begin in September of 2017.

Docent Training ACR’s rigorous training program gives docent volunteers a firm grounding in local natural history and the ability to recognize and capitalize on teachable moments. Docents receive 23 weeks (120 hours) of core training in natural history, ecology and nature interpretation for children. Classes are taught by experts and run by experienced docents who know how to make learning fun. 

Training classes meet Wednesday mornings from September through February and alternate each year between the Martin Griffin Preserve and Bouverie Preserve. College credit is available.

After graduating from the core training, docents receive a rich menu of lifelong learning opportunities, including lectures, field trips, crafting and special events. 

To learn more about becoming a Docent contact the ACR Education Team or complete and submit an application today!

Bouverie Docent Training Application Thank you for your interest in becoming a Bouverie Preserve docent! If you are 18 years of age or older, please complete and return the application.

Download the application

Learn more: Download the brochure (pdf)



Photo by Jocelyn Knight

Ranch Guides

Calling all nature lovers, birders and friendly folks! Become a Ranch Guide of ACR’s Martin Griffin Preserve and share your knowledge and appreciation of nature. Ranch Guides interpret the natural environment of ACR's Martin Griffin Preserve and its many unique natural features for over 5,000 visitors each year from mid-March through mid-July. Volunteer times are on weekends and holidays and are flexible.

Join us for our next Ranch Guide training, which will take place during January – April 2017. Spend eight Saturdays learning about the natural history of the preserve – birds, plants, aquatic critters, Bolinas Lagoon ecology and more! Training includes techniques for interpreting natural history and leading guided nature walks. Ranch Guide graduates commit to working four weekend days for two seasons. Great for birders, nature enthusiasts, novices and experts alike.

Interested? Contact the ACR Education Team at 415.868.9244 ext. 110 for more information.

Ranch Hosts

Ranch Hosts greet and orient visitors as they arrive at the Martin Griffin Preserve on weekends and holidays during the spring and early summer. There is no training or experience necessary.




Modini Mayacamas Preserves Hike Leaders

The Modini Mayacamas Preserves Hike Leaders are a small group of dedicated volunteers who lead walks on the Modini Mayacamas Preserves of Audubon Canyon Ranch. These volunteers are crucial to our ability to offer nature walks to the public and to introducing people who have been through the Access Orientation to the preserve.

The first step to becoming a hike leader is to go through the Modini Mayacamas Preserves Access Orientation, become familiar with the preserves by joining in on some of the on-going activities and coming up for walks independently. If you think hike leading might be a good fit for you, email Modini Mayacamas Preserves Staff or call 707.431.8184 for more information.

Contact us

Contact the Education Team at 415.868.9244 ext. 301 to learn more about any of these volunteer opportunities.