Trails Center Student Docent Program Connects Local Youth with History
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (NHTIC) student docent program is a great way to engage local youth in Casper, Wyoming.
While learning how to lead tours through the center, students gain important skills in public speaking and engage in challenging discussions. “We are training our next generation of volunteers, historians and teachers,” said Stacey Moore, NHTIC education coordinator and program facilitator.
Students graduate from the five-week after giving a tour through the Trails Center to their peers. Moore said, “Studies have found that students make a deeper connection to learning with peer-to-peer training than adult instruction. Our student docents are always amazed when I tell them they get to be the teacher.”
Many graduates of the program stay on as full time volunteers, leading summer tours and assisting with visitation. The student docents are excellent additions to an already outstanding docent team and the tours they lead leave a lasting impression on their peers.
After a tour, classmates are asked how they felt being led by one of their peers. One student said, “I thought it was awesome because it makes more sense when it’s put in kid language.” Students comment that they felt more comfortable asking questions, thought about the trails more, and they had a lot of fun.
Several students commented on the demeanor of the student docents. One remarked, “To have my peers lead the discussion, it felt like they were my teacher and I was a student.” Another student said that docents almost seemed older than they were. Students, who started the training unsure and nervous, ended by leading discussions with confidence.
Story: Kylie L. McCormick, NHTIC Volunteer; Photos: Jason Vlcan and Stacey Moore