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  • Writer's pictureDavid Browning

Become a trail docent

Many have asked about the open spaces such as Bommer/Shady Canyon. A great way to obtain access to these pristine areas is to become a docent for Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

The basic steps are as follows:

· Complete an interest form on the website:

· Now you're in the queue and when the next orientation is scheduled you will receive an invitation.  Orientation is six hours and includes submitting to a background check, a TB test and introduces you to many of the staff as well as the policies of the program and related. 

· Orientation is followed up with a mandatory four hour Public Interaction Workshop (not on the same day) and then attendance at a minimum of two volunteer only “training hikes.” These are in the field trainings that cover activity operations and procedures. Everyone is also required to be CPR/1st aid certified, which is provided if they aren’t already certified. 

· After that, you must attend three public activities of your choosing and receive passing marks on your trail guide evaluations, which are conducted by staff or experienced docents. are now a certified volunteer trail guide 

· You must then serve as a trail guide for at least six months to qualify for docent training. The docent (Activity Leadership Training) class is six weeks (4 hours per week) of natural history, interpretation and leadership training

· After the six weeks of class sessions they are required to lead two activities under the supervision of a docent or staff that will provide thorough written evaluations of the trainees readiness.

· The final step is to lead two activities on your own. Presuming success, you are then certified as a docent and can begin leading public activities!

Yes, it is a daunting set of tasks but we believe the reward is worth the effort. You learn skills that apply in so many ways to all the groups that enjoy our outdoors. And more importantly, we are led to believe that there is room to add open access days if and when there are enough docents available to staff them - let's be part of making that happen!

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