Docents Needed for Gorge Tours
by Sara Riggs
Texas Master Naturalist Lindheimer Chapter
No matter your background, if you are interested in learning more about Canyon Lake Gorge and then sharing your knowledge with the public, you are in luck because a Canyon Lake Gorge Docent Training Class begins Feb. 9, 2018.
Canyon Lake Gorge tours are extremely popular. If you’ve ever wanted to time travel, this tour is your chance to go from approximately 100 million years back to 110 million years in time while exploring and learning about our amazing Hill Country during the age of the dinosaurs. And if you have ever wanted to help time travelers along the way, keep reading.
The tour is of the area exposed by the historic flood of 2002. It highlights our local geology and the exposed Trinity Aquifer. The Gorge is an outdoor classroom where, among other things, visitors can learn how the aquifer’s underground, permeable rock cavities soak up, store, and move the rainwater that many Central Texans depend on for drinking water and irrigation.
Visitors can see limestone layers created from an ancient sea, and can admire waterfalls and springs where the aquifer is exposed.
Tour guides and docents point out these faults, fractures and seeps in the limestone. You are hereby invited to join our current volunteers and become a docent.
If you are wondering what exactly a docent is and does, we’d say a docent is someone who helps the tour guides.
But to be a little more precise, tour guide Susan Bogle explains it like this: “I feel that the docents work in tandem with the guides to enhance the visitors’ experience and to guarantee a safe tour for everyone.”
Fellow guide Paul Mebane has this take on the docent position: “On tours, I don’t differentiate between guides and docents. It is just ‘we’ve got three guides today’.”
“I think the docent’s most important activity is interaction with the participants,” he says. “Usually the guide is out front walking to the next stop, so the docent is moving the tour group forward. Any questions that come up can be answered or brought forward to the whole group at the next stop. To me, we want the public to get excited about nature, enjoy the tour and learn a bit along the way.”
Guides often ask if the docents want to give part of the talk or add comments, depending on what they are comfortable with.
“Docents have the advantage of working with multiple guides, so they hear a wider range of stories,” Mebane says.
Many of our current guides started their Gorge tour volunteer work as docents.
The upcoming class will run for five consecutive Fridays (Feb. 9 through Mar. 9) from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Tye Preston Memorial Library. The training is a combination of classroom and field training and covers the creation of the Gorge through the power of water. Classes include lessons on geology and biology with a little botany and a few other things thrown in.
First aid and CPR training also are on the curriculum.
A one-year commitment to two tours per quarter (eight tours per year) is required. Docents must have access to email and be able to complete online volunteer scheduling.
The class is limited class to 30 participants and there is a class registration fee of $50, payable on the first day of class to Gorge Preservation Society. The fee includes a tax deductible one-year GPS membership (fee adjusted for current GPS members).
“We are in need of volunteers that have the heart for our mission — we are only as strong as our volunteer program and need you to help us grow,” says Jaynellen Kerr of the Gorge Preservation Society, GBRA.
To register for this class, contact Jaynellen Kerr and/or Josie Gonzales at Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, the Gorge Preservation Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-964-5424 or at 2075 FM 2673, Suite D, Canyon Lake.
If you have never taken the Canyon Lake Gorge Tour go to canyongorge.org to book a tour for yourself and your family even if you aren’t able to join our volunteer corps of docents at this time.