Tour Guide Docent

Division Assignment: Public Programs

Reports to:


To support the USBG mission of demonstrating the aesthetic, cultural, economic, ecological and therapuetic importance of plants to the well-being of humankind by facilitating guided tours of the Conservatory and National Garden as well as informal encounters throughout the Garden.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Create a welcoming atmosphere for visitor interactions and questions.
  • Effectively and accurately communicate information about the USBG's mission, history and living plant collections.
  • Successfully facilitate highlight tours of the Garden (45 minutes to 1 hour in length).


  • Interest in serving the general public
  • Comfort with interacting with a variety of audiences
  • Ability to be courteous, respectful and patient with visitors
  • Good oral communication skills
  • Cooperative nature, including the ability to accept instruction and correction
  • Ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances
  • Professional manner and appearance

Training Provided:

**2013 docent training begins Thursday evening, February 28 and will run twice a week for 10 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30. Monday and Wednesday make-up evenings possible based on USBG special events calendar.**

  • Successful completion of required docent training (includes attendance, advanced reading, take-home & in-class assignments/activities, practice tours and shadowing)
  • Access to interpretive training materials and USBG other references
  • Access to USBG public programs and horticutlure staff for additional support
  • Shadowing current docents

Time Commitment:

  • Commitment to facilitating at least 2 walk-up tours per month
  • Weekdays preferred, weekend shifts available
  • Flexible scheduling based on volunteer's availability
  • Willingness to take on reserved tour requests (Volunteer is asked about availability approximately 3-4 weeks in advance of any specific tour request)


  • Invaluable museum and customer service experience
  • Opportunities to participate in continuing education at the Garden
  • Participation in horticulture in-service training programs offered to volunteers in the Washington, D.C., area
  • Participation in USBG public programs for free or at reduced rates on a space-available basis
  • Participation in USBG-sponsored volunteer appreciation events
  • USBG Volunteer name tag and shirt
  • USBG Volunteer newsletter


There are two formats available to submit an application. Either must be completed and accompanied by any necessary supporting documentation.

Microsoft Word Volunteer Application

Adobe Acrobat fillable PDF Volunteer Application


Once complete, you may either email your application and any supporting documentation as electronic attachments or send hard copies to the following mailing address:

United States Botanic Garden
Attn: Volunteer Coordinator
245 First Street
Washington, DC 20024-3201