By Penny Williams, Communications Volunteer
The Bloedel Docent Program, founded in 2014, is relatively new but has had a significant impact at the Bloedel Conservatory. Currently, 40 members of this volunteer group serve as ambassadors – welcoming visitors to Bloedel and ensuring that those visitors have a friendly, informed, and satisfying experience while there.
After an initial in-depth 8-week training session, the docents keep well-informed through study group activities, their own research, meetings, educational tours, and a bi-monthly newsletter. They then share this information with visitors through informal conversations, often with someone they notice examining a plant or staring awe-struck at one of the more exotic birds. Some volunteers come to the Program from a gardening background, others are keen birders: both of these areas of expertise are relevant, and serve the needs of this very special environment.
The docents welcome school groups, seniors’ groups, visitors from abroad, and curious Vancouverites alike. Each time, they help visitors find something of particular, personal interest — that starting point for real engagement, real learning, and a sense of connection with this historical landmark in Vancouver.