We Love Our Volunteers!

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we couldn’t be more appreciative of our 600 active volunteers here at the Desert Museum! On average, our volunteers donate over 130,000 hours of their time (which is equivalent to 63 full time employees) a year! We have 39 volunteers who have been with the Museum 15 years or more and one incredible Docent who has been volunteering for almost 47 years! The Desert Museum’s volunteer program is seen as a leading model among other institutions around the world and our volunteers are a big reason why the Museum is able to provide such exceptional experiences to our hundreds of thousands of guests each year.

We are incredibly proud of our entire volunteer force! Volunteers at the Museum are passionate about what they do going through many hours of rigorous training and classes to learn all about our natural world. All volunteers share the same goal as our staff, to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

So here’s to you volunteers! We miss you so much during this time but know that we are thinking of you and are so thankful for all of the hard work and love you put towards the Museum. We can’t wait to welcome you back soon! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful to have you as part of our Desert Museum family.

Now, let’s read about five stellar volunteers and learn a little bit more about why they love to donate their time to the Museum! Interested in volunteering yourself? Though at this time volunteers are unable to come onto grounds we would love to have you once we reopen. Check out our application here: https://bit.ly/2yKxkG


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Buzz Hoffman – Docent & Conservation Science Volunteer

Why do you choose to volunteer at the Museum?

I want to share my love and knowledge of the Sonoran Desert Region with Museum visitors from all over the world.  I love the opportunity to discuss with visitors how plants and animals are connected in the environment as well as the importance of species and habitat conservation. It’s very rewarding to learn new things every time I go to the Museum and to work with people having a wide variety of backgrounds and interests.



Buzz has had the pleasure of participating in the following activities:

  • Friday and Cool Saturday Evening docent for seventeen years and Friday docent captain for six of those years
  • Prepare natural history articles and interpretive fact sheets and kit documents on a variety of subjects
  • Work with Conservation Research Scientist, Dr.  Kim Franklin, on a study to obtain baseline information on the diversity, abundance, distribution and seasonal activity of our native bees
  • Interpret various kits for the new docent training class and teach the section on Insects of the Sonoran Desert Region for the class



Kaia Shepard – Junior Docent Captain

I’m Kaia Shepard, this is my third year as a Junior Docent and my fourth year volunteering at the museum.  As a Junior Docent I go out and talk to visitors on the museum grounds; we have sets of materials, like models of animals or plants, to help teach visitors about the Sonoran Desert.  I’ve visited the Desert Museum since I was very young; I loved talking to the Junior Docents and have wanted to be one for as long as I can remember, so volunteering here is a dream come true!


Geoffrey Tyler – School Group Assistant, School Group Theater Assistant, Buffelgrass Removal Volunteer, & Docent

Why do you choose to volunteer at the Museum?

I’ve never asked myself that question so I will try to come up with an answer; I had previously been a Welfare Caseworker Volunteer with the Royal British Legion, the organization that looks after former members of the British Army, Navy & Air Force.

I first heard about the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum when I attended an event at Tucson Estates’ Function Hall; the guest speaker was the Volunteer Coordinator and I found her talk so fascinating that I signed up there and then.

I started as a Greeter and filled in for as many other opportunities as I could.

Then my training began as a Docent ( an interpreter ) “Not having an interpreter in a park or museum is like inviting a guest to your house, opening the door and then disappearing.”…William H. Carr (Co founder of The Desert Museum)

In addition to Docenting and greeting/supervising school children at the Museum, I do many other things including outreach co teaching in schools, co teaching the Schools Theater Program and Buffelgrass pulling.(it’s an invasive plant species)

If you were to ask me, “Are you addicted to Museum activities?” I would have to say “YES!!!….I’m greedy!”




Betsy Fredericksen – Monday Greeter

Why do you like to volunteer at the Desert Museum?


Volunteering at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is so rewarding because we have guests from all over the world every day who are interested in learning about the natural world. That makes them nice people in my book.  I love meeting them and sharing the animals, plants, geology and history of the desert with them. It’s awesome!

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Pam Ryan – Docent, Marketing Volunteer, Education Volunteer, & Admin Volunteer

Favorite memory: Interpreting a snake to a little girl who was scared of snakes but at the end, she touched the snake and said, “Oooohh, he’s nice!”


Why do I choose to volunteer at the Museum: I’ve been volunteering at ASDM for over 20 years and every time I come there, I learn something. Plus the people I volunteer with are so interesting! I even learned Uno!

What do I do for the Museum: I’ll do anything I’m asked to do! I’ve been a docent, a volunteer in the Volunteer office and in the Marketing dept, I started and managed the On The Road program for speakers for several years around the 50th anniversary of the Museum, I’ve brought animals (usually snakes) to school programs, and I taught American Red Cross CPR/First Aid to staff and docents for many years.


Written and compiled by ASDM Media and Market Specialist / Lauren Belcher



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