Thursday, February 12, 2015

Learning and Sharing at Morris Arboretum: Become a Guide

Become a Guide

Guides have played an active role at the Morris Arboretum for nearly 40 years. However, much has changed during the last four decades in both the landscape and its interpretation. The first guided tours were leisurely walks that highlighted interesting trees and such features as the Swan Pond and Log Cabin.

Today's guides lead a wide variety of tours for both adults and children. The adult tours are primarily general or garden highlight tours, but they can be geared towards specific topics of interest including sculpture in the garden, Japanese elements, or native plants. The children's tours are most often curriculum based, aimed at teaching groups about trees, pollination, and the wetland among other topics. Guides also welcome visitors, help plan their visits, present guests with topics of interest within the garden, and have even taken visitors back in time on costumed tours of the Victorian garden.

Guide instruction has changed quite a bit over the years, too. In the early years, novice guides became familiar with the grounds by taking tours led by experienced guides and Paul Meyer, the Curator of the Living Collections at the time. To hone their skills, these new guides would take field trips to other cultural institutions and gardens. Today's trainees attend a 30 hour course given on 11 days in March. Throughout this time, guides in training learn about plants, the history of the Arboretum, techniques for leading tours, and much more. Each trainee also receives a notebook filled with useful facts and interesting background material. In addition, trainees gain "hands on" experience by leading parts of tours with current guides. During the course, trainees are paired with mentors, who will support and encourage them until they are prepared to give tours on their own.

Guides give their time and energy to the Arboretum for many reasons: to learn exciting new things, to be inspired by the beauty of Morris Arboretum, and also to meet staff and other volunteers who believe trees are vitally important to everyone's life. Our very knowledgeable guides promote the Arboretum's mission to their neighbors and friends by encouraging them to visit, volunteer and become members. Even more importantly, guides encourage environmental stewardship in neighborhoods near and far.

Active guides at Morris Arboretum are rewarded with learning opportunities such as field trips, lectures and classes, receive exciting awards for volunteering, and make lifelong friends. If you would like to be a part of this actively engaged group click here to visit our website for application and instructions.

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