Docent Program

Docents are volunteers trained to lead interpretive walking tours of the Back Bay Fens, Riverway, Olmsted Park and Jamaica Pond for the general public and special interest groups. Docents also may assist with visitor programming and lead or host activities at the Shattuck Visitor Center or on site in the Emerald Necklace parks. Tours and activities are generally 90 minutes in length.

Volunteers interested in becoming docents attend a multi-week training program to learn about the Emerald Necklace – its history and landscape and the efforts to restore and maintain the parks today.

No experience necessary, just a love of the outdoors and an interest in learning about the parks and sharing your knowledge with others. Whether you are a park user, history buff, gardener, recreational walker or interested in landscape and design, as an Emerald Necklace docent you’ll have the opportunity to enrich the park experience for yourself and others.

Docent Responsibilities


  • Attend six 90-minute classes as scheduled in April at the Shattuck Visitor Center.
  • Attend additional classes (no more than two) to be scheduled in June at the Curley House in Jamaica Plain.
  • Complete all homework assignments.
  • Complete a class evaluation after each class.
  • Attend at least two tours led by Conservancy staff, a mentor docent or Park Ranger.
  • Take a guided tour of your choice at an area museum, park, library or historical site to observe and note interpretive techniques. (Note: Free tours are offered at the National Park Service Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Boston Public Library, Arnold Arboretum, and State House, among others.)
  • Lead a “practice” tour.

    As an Emerald Necklace Docent, you will:

    • Lead a minimum of one tour and one visitor activity (or an additional tour) per month between May and October. Tours are scheduled on weekdays as well as weekends. Visitor activities are held at the Shattuck Visitor Center or on site in the parks.
    • Arrive at least 15 minutes before a tour or visitor activity for preparation.
    • Commit to at least one volunteering season, with the goal of making a multi-year investment. (Season runs from May to October).
    • Notify the Conservancy as soon as possible (minimum of 48 hours) if you are unable to lead your scheduled tour and make every effort to find a replacement using your docent contact list.
    • Attend bi-monthly docent meetings at the Shattuck Visitor Center.
    • Continue to expand your knowledge of the Emerald Necklace by attending Conservancy events and tours and through independent study.


      • Able to meet the responsibilities and time commitment as outlined above.
      • Interest in learning about the Emerald Necklace and the work of the Conservancy.
      • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; ability to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds; and fluency in English.
      • Dependability and punctuality.
      • Ability to lead tours outdoors for up to 90 minutes in length and in less-than-ideal weather conditions.


      Docents play an important role at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and are valued members of the organization. As an Emerald Necklace Docent, you will:

      • Foster a greater appreciation and understanding of the Emerald Necklace by providing interpretative tours and programming.
      • Enrich the visitor’s experience by sharing your knowledge of both park history and current restoration and renewal projects.
      • Be provided with a docent training manual and educational materials.
      • Have an opportunity to customize your tour and programming according to your interests.
      • Have the opportunity for self-growth and continued learning.
      • Receive invitations to attend enrichment programs and special programs.
      • Receive Conservancy-branded apparel.
      • Have access to resources and special borrowing privileges at the library at the Shattuck Visitor Center.

      Become a Docent

      Classes start April 2018
      Class Schedule (Tentative)
      Docent Application
      For more information, contact Jeanine Knox, Docent Coordinator, at

      Applications due by March 15, 2018, or until the class is filled.

      There is still room in Wednesday's Charlesgate Park tour!

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