What Is A Docent?

I’m a docent in the Education Department at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, which means that I am a volunteer at […]

I’m a docent in the Education Department at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, which means that I am a volunteer at the refuge and have done so since May 2023.


I greet the guests as they arrive and talk to them about the animals in the Discovery Area.

Many guests have previously visited the refuge and are very excited to see the changes that have occurred here over the years. However, the majority of our guests have not been here before. All are very interested in our mission to give our animals the best possible lives and to help them recover from the trauma they have endured earlier in their lives.


After a few months of greeting guests, I trained with other wildlife interpreters from the education department to give the tram tours. I was given a training manual during my initial volunteer period, which gave me information about all of the animals. I volunteered 2 to 3 times per week for several weeks practicing a walking tour with the head of the education department and other senior education staff.

These walking tours tested my knowledge of each animal in their habitat in the Discovery Area and on the tour loop.

After a few weeks of training, I gave my first tram tour. I was nervous; however, my tour only had a few people, and they were very kind to me. They were attentive to the information I shared about the refuge and our animals’ stories.

Positive Interactions

I have met lots of interesting people while at Turpentine Creek. Our guests come from all over the world, and several are cat people like myself.  A lot of our guests have watched the popular show on Netflix, “Tiger King,” and formed opinions about human interactions with predators.  By visiting a GFAS-accredited sanctuary, you will be able to learn the difference between a pseudo-sanctuary as depicted in The Tiger King show and a true sanctuary like Turpentine Creek.

I’ve learned there are lots of people with differing opinions about things like declawing cats or holding and petting a cub (which is now illegal under the Big Cat Public Safety Act passed in 2022). 

My most special moments here at the refuge include listening to the lions’ carol, trying to teach myself to give a good chuff, and having ti-liger Lakota stalk me along his fence area when I am coming to and leaving work. 

Other Docent Opportunities

There are many opportunities for people to become docents at Turpentine Creek. These include helping with habitat upkeep such as painting fences, picking up trash along the highway, and gardening. Other docent opportunities are listed on our website, TCWR.org.

If you are unable to come here personally to volunteer, there are many items you can bring or send to donate for enrichment for our animals. Some of these items include empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls, kitchen spices, catnip, perfume, and seasonal items such as Christmas trees, pumpkins, and watermelons. You can find a complete list of items on our website.

Please get involved!! It’s fun!!!

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