Do you remember your first moments of discovery into the world of plants? Like the first time you saw tree rings and understood they represent the years of growth? Or saw the life cycle of a frog or butterfly? Do you know a lot about the local Appalachian history including the Vanderbilts, Olmsted and railroads? If you enjoy working with people of all ages and you have a love of nature and local history that you would like to share with others, consider becoming a TNCA Docent!

Our new docent program will create fun and exciting learning experiences for guests, families and budding botanists in the areas of horticulture, history, arts and science and Arboretum gardens. Docent stations will be start this August/September in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, at Willow Pond and along the Grand Promenade. This year we will start with three stations but hope to expand with more topics and locations in 2022.

Sign up today to be a docent! Volunteers should first create a profile at and then sign up for one (or more) of the following training sessions on VolunteerHub.

The first training will be for Bonsai Exhibition Garden stations. Topics covered for this training include:

Role of docents in the Bonsai Garden

Bonsai Garden Background and History

A stroll through the Bonsai Garden

What is Bonsai?

Ethos of Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

What makes the NCA Bonsai Collection different?

Bonsai tree development

Tips for Bonsai Garden docents

In person training is scheduled for Saturday, August 7 from 10:30 a.m.- 12 p.m. An additional training is scheduled August 21 via Zoom and will be available on demand afterwards.

Willow Pond Docent training will take place on August 14, August 21 and August 28. Topics covered for this training include:

Role of docents at Willow Pond

Willow Pond Background and history

A tour of the Willow Ponds

Flora and fauna of the pond

Using a dichotomous key and macroinvertebrate identification

Tips for Willow Pond Docents

Volunteers need only to sign up for one of the Bonsai Docent trainings and/or one of the Willow Pond Docent trainings. Historian Docent training will be scheduled soon. Docent stations will pop up Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m- 4 p.m. later this summer.

For more information, visit or email