Docent Engagement Specialist
California Academy of Sciences 7 reviews - San Francisco, CA

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Reporting to the Senior Manager of the Docent Program, this position works closely and collaboratively with staff and volunteers to provide volunteer docents with guidance and support in museum engagement and interpretation techniques, practice, and theory. As a member of the Docent Program staff team, the Docent Engagement Specialist is the professional consultant on engagement for all aspects of the docent experience, including formal orientation, initial and ongoing training, regular and special programming on the public floor, docent evaluation, and docent enrichment. This is a flexible position and will require some evening and weekend work.

  • Volunteer Leadership
    • Nurture positive relationship between docents and the Academy based on an appreciation for their unique role in providing informal, interactive, visitor-lead and inquiry based engagement.
    • Effectively and collaboratively lead docents and staff in task force and committee work that produces engagement techniques and activities that meet Academy needs, reflects Academy culture, and incorporates docent input, ideas, and enthusiasm.
    • Develop and maintain supportive relationships with individual docents based on trust, respect, effective interpersonal communication, and best volunteer management practice.
    • As a member of the Docent Program staff team, participate in regular docent functions, including, but not limited to, giving pre-shift talks, participation in and facilitation of formal and informal discussions and meetings, and social events.
    • Ensure docents provide quality engagement with Academy guests by:
      • Working closely with Docent Program staff and docents, develop and implement a comprehensive curriculum of initial and on-going training that incorporates a variety of appropriate training modalities, including workshops, seminars, guest science lectures, and online self-training.
      • Preparing docents for their role in engagement by participating in a comprehensive orientation to the Academy.
      • Developing unique, stimulating, and effective ways to train docents in best practices in informal engagement based on principles of adult learning, current research, and past experience.
      • Providing initial and on-going training on engagement best practices
      • Working closely with Docent Program Staff, develop, implement, and analyze individual docent evaluations
      • Working closely with the Senior Manager of Docent Programs and Docent Program Staff, develop, implement, and analyze training program assessments.
      • Engagement
        • Work closely with docents and docent program and other department and program staff to:
          • Create unique engagement activities that incorporate Academy messages into all engagement interactions
          • Develop unique engagement activities that support Academy programming and exhibits
          • Implement a process and strategy for using objects for engagement
  • Work closely with IT and Docent Program staff and docents to develop and incorporate digital engagement activities
  • Regularly model for docents appropriate public engagement, including interpretive skills and knowledge of content, by working with docents and docent program staff on the public floor and by delivering public engagement yourself.
  • Negotiate collaboration and coordination of docents with all public facing department and program staff and volunteers to ensure a seamless and holistic guest experience.
  • Develop productive working relationship with IBSS and Steinhart Aquarium teams in order to work effectively with staff, curators, and docents, to develop strategy for and implement appropriate science content for initial, ongoing, and special training.
  • Act as a liaison between docents, Docent Program staff, and IBSS, Steinhart Aquarium, and other staff and scientists in vetting scientific content and vetting and creating engagement materials.
  • Investigate and share current research, best practices, and trends on museum interpretation and education with Docent Program staff and docents.
  • Working as a Docent Program staff team member, support other Docent Program, Public Programs, Public Engagement and Education Division, and Academy-wide initiatives.
  • Follow all Academy safety regulations
  • Other duties as assigned

QUALIFICATIONS: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


The ideal candidate will possess a combination of the following education and/or equivalent experience
  • Bachelor's degree or higher; preferably in science education, museum education, nonprofit or public administration, adult training, social sciences or related fields.
  • Minimum of two years' experience in informal science or museum education; preferably with informal interpretation or guest engagement experience.
  • Minimum of two years' experience coordinating or managing volunteers; preferably with at least one year experience training volunteers.
  • Prefer minimum of one year experience working with scientific experts in an education or research setting.

  • Knowledge of and experience with volunteer management concepts and best practices, including the orientation, training, supervision, and evaluation of volunteers
  • Documented ability and experience developing positive relationships with volunteers
  • Knowledge of interpretation theory, concepts, and practice and able to apply theory to practice; able to provide examples from past experience.
  • Demonstrated experience in developing, implementing, and evaluating informal museum engagement programs and activities
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in training interpretation and engagement principles and techniques.
  • Familiar with adult learning theory, adult training and professional development theory and practice, and demonstrated portfolio of applying theory to practice
  • Demonstrated ability to develop, organize, coordinate, and facilitate adult training, including online training or teaching principles and programs.
  • Excellent written and interpersonal communications skills
  • Customer service oriented; able to interact professionally and appropriately with staff, volunteers, and the public; demonstrated ability to develop a positive team culture with volunteers
  • Works well independently and as part of a team of volunteers and staff
  • High energy, creativity, and enthusiasm
  • Strong leadership skills; able to lead and facilitate meetings, committees, and task forces; takes initiative
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Excellent organizational skills; able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Detail oriented
  • Skills in various word processing, publishing, database, and spreadsheet programs; familiar with web based programs.

LANGUAGE SKILLS: Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals. Ability to write routine reports and correspondence. Ability to speak effectively before groups or individuals.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS & WORK ENVIRONMENT: The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, and reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear. Must be able to lift 30 lbs. Must be able to perform repetitive motions 50% of the time. Must be able to stand for long periods of time to deliver, assist with and observe programs on museum floor.


Please submit your cover letter and resume online at Note that the recruitment timeline for positions vary and depend on many factors, so it is impossible to accurately predict when a position will close. We appreciate your patience during this process. No phone calls please.

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes applications from individuals who will contribute to its diversity.

The California Academy of Sciences is a non-smoking facility. There is also no smoking in Golden Gate Park.

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