A docent has many varied duties. The docent greets guests as they arrive to ride the train. A docent is a person who enjoys people by going out of his/her way to help guests enjoy their experience while visiting the Cumbres &Toltec Scenic Railroad. That might entail answering questions, helping passengers to board or disembark from the train, pointing out points of interest along the route, and any number of other helpful tasks as needed. A docent must have a good knowledge of the book Ticket to Toltec, the Friends' Walking Tour brochure and the Trip Map.
A docent has expert knowledge about the C&TSR as a living museum. The docent has knowledge not only about the railroad, but also about flowers, wildlife, geology, the history and culture of the area. Docents also act as trainers and mentors to new volunteers entering the program.
A docent may be assigned to yard duty, giving yard tours during the course of the day. During the day yard docents are available to talk to people visiting from outside the area. We get many out of state visitors to this museum and many international visitors also. We must have knowledgeable people filling these assignments in order to interpret our museum and the history of the railroad and the surrounding region. The yard docent is available to give personalized tours of the train yard area and to explain the various exhibits.
A docent may be assigned to ride the train. That requires that he/she be available to greet guests in the morning as they arrive and then ride the train to the other end of the line returning by bus in the eveining. Docents on board the train will answer questions of the guests and point out various highlights along the way. These are long, demanding days of work. It requires a lot of physical stamina to be on your feet for hours at a time with no chance to sit and rest except at lunch and at day's end.
BECOMING A DOCENT
Individuals interested in becoming a docent should enjoy talking with people in a one-on-one environment. They should have a passion for customer service and for helping railroad guests enjoy their experience.
To become a docent, you must be a Friends' member, you must register as a volunteer as you would for a work session, and you must complete a training program. Once training is completed, you may qualify as a train or yard host. Further training and experience will qualify you as a docent.
Every train host/docent is expected to know at least the following reference works: Ticket to Toltec, Friends' Walking Tour Guide, and the information in the Trip Map.
Training for new docents must be scheduled ahead of time to ensure that classroom space is available. The training starts with an orientation covering safety issues and general policies when working with train crews, and most importantly helping our guests enjoy their visit to the railroad. This is followed by five days of working with a mentor and as many experienced hosts/docents as possible. After successfully completing this training period, the new docent may be eligible to work alone either in the yard or on a train.
Unlike the work session program, the docent program needs volunteers daily from opening day (Memorial Day weekend) until the closing of the railroad (usually mid October), whether the train runs or not. Historically, we have found that July and early September are times that we need more volunteers to sign-up for work as docents.
The Friends have an "on-site" coordinator who is responsible for scheduling day to day assignments and handling other issues as they occur.
We know from past experience that we must limit the number of docents to two per train. Too many docents distract from our guest's experience on the train. We encourage you to pick days and weeks where we need help the most. Should the need arise to limit the number of docents on the trains, we will rotate daily assignments to give everyone an opportunity to participate. Those not riding the train may be asked to work in the Chama yards.
To keep docents informed of the most current happenings with the program, periodic e-mail newsletters will be sent. Access to the Internet, especially e-mail capability, is important to fully participate in the docent program. Please make sure that we have your current e-mail address.