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, nature guide and hike leader volunteers to deliver both our School and Public programs. Volunteers, in turn, receive comprehensive science-based training and lifelong learning opportunities.
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
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 17-24 weeks 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 January/February and alternate each year between the Martin Griffin Preserve and Bouverie Preserve. ACR partners with UC Extension’s California Naturalist program, allowing graduates to become certified California Naturalists and eligible to receive four UC Davis Extension undergraduate academic credits. CalNat certification connects ACR docents with a statewide community of naturalists who convene regularly for advanced training, citizen science projects, conferences and other events.
After graduating from the core training, docents receive a rich menu of lifelong learning opportunities, including lectures, field trips, crafting and special events.
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 take place on 17 Wednesdays from September 2019 - January 2020, and applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
Learn more about becoming a Bouverie Preserve docent: Download the brochure (pdf)
Martin Griffin Preserve Docents
Martin Griffin Preserve docents teach 3rd, 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. Martin Griffin Preserve also offers an adapted program for Special Day classes. Training takes place every two years. The next Martin Griffin Preserve docent training will commence in September 2020.
Interested? Please contact the Education team at 415.868.9244 ext. 116.
Learn more about becoming a Martin Griffin Preserve docent: Download the brochure (pdf)
Calling all nature lovers, birders and friendly folks! Become an ACR nature guide of the Martin Griffin Preserve and share your knowledge and appreciation of nature. ACR nature guides interpret the natural environment of Martin Griffin Preserve and its many unique natural features for hundreds of visitors each year.
Our next nature guide training will occur over nine Saturdays in early 2020. Learn about birds, plants, aquatic critters, Bolinas Lagoon ecology and more! Training includes techniques for interpreting natural history and leading guided nature walks.
ACR’s Nature Guide program is an ideal opportunity for working professionals and college students to spend time in nature and gain hands-on field experience. Volunteer times are on weekends and holidays and are flexible.
Sign up by email or by calling 415.868.9244 ext. 122.
Preserve 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 Preserve Hike Leaders
The Modini Preserve hike leaders are a small group of dedicated volunteers who lead walks on the Modini Preserve, located above the Alexander Valley near Healdsburg. Hike leaders 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 Preserves.
The first step to becoming a hike leader is to go through the Modini Preserve Access Orientation, become familiar with the Preserve by joining us 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 Michelle Cooper, Modini Preserve manager or call 707.431.8184 for more information.
Contact the Education Team at 415.868.9244 ext. 118 to learn more about any of these volunteer opportunities.