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Docent /Interpeter/Tour Guide

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A Docent is a high-level volunteer who undergoes Preston’s Smithfield’s docent training program. Docents support Interpreters by assisting guests with hands-on activities and providing historical content. Docents may also support Guest Services Specialists who are responsible for museum store operations and other tasks.

A Docent is tasked with engaging guests in a positive and effective manner and are responsible for upholding Preston’s Smithfield’s mission statement by helping to facilitate daily interactive experiences. Docents represent Preston’s Smithfield and all of its stories, ideas, and mission.

These individuals are ambassadors for Preston's Smithfield and its brand and are responsible for providing the highest level of service and care to all guests and staff.

Essential Functions
  1. Completes specific tasks not filled by paid staff including, but not limited to:
    • Interpretation: Guides guests through unstaffed areas of the site while helping to protect artifacts, structures and landscapes from damage.
    • Interpretation/Program Support: Provides hands-on assistance to staff during daily operations and programs, as needed.
    • Guest Services Specialist Support: Assists with museum store operations staffing shifts, processing merchandise as directed by the Visitor Experiences Manager.
  2. Docents report directly to the Visitor Experiences Manager
  3. Provides a high level of hospitality and service for all guests and staff
  4. Communicates regularly with team leaders about operational problems
  5. Participates in all training sessions as required.
  6. Acts as a team player
  7. Performs other duties as necessary.

Minimum Requirements
  • Must be 18 years of age or older for Docent jobs; some may allow persons aged 16 or older to fulfill certain functions.
  • High school diploma or equivalent (unless enrolled in high school or GED coursework)
  • Must have strong verbal communication skills.
  • Must successfully complete all institutional and departmental training; must pass Docents training assessments.
  • Must have weekday, weekend, holiday, and evening availability
  • Preferred one year of customer service experience and museum interpreter experience

Special Skills
  • Must have strong interpersonal skills: ability to work in a team, possess a friendly and upbeat disposition, ability to connect with a diverse audience and workgroup; must be able to maintain high-energy, hospitable demeanor for hours at a time.
  • Must be able to read, retain and then communicate complex ideas to diverse audiences.
  • Must be able to follow directions and multi-task.
  • Needs to be flexible, professional (in appearance and demeanor), and approachable; must be enthusiastic, passionate, and willing to try new Should be a self-starter.
  • Some public speaking or theater experience may be helpful.
  • Must be able to work independently and as a member of a team.
  • Ability to use mobile technology like iPads and other tablets.
  • Must possess the ability to efficiently use QuickBooks Pro store software after training and must feel comfortable and confident handling and counting money - cash, checks and credit cards
  • Good manual dexterity is helpful.

Physical, Mental, Environmental Considerations

  1. Physical:
    1. Standing/walking - constantly
    2. Climbing stairs - occasionally
    3. Sitting - occasionally
    4. Lifting - occasionally, up to ~30lbs
  2. Vision:
    1. Normal
  3. Mental:
    1. Observation, analysis, interpretation, decision making.
    2. Ability to read guest needs and interests and respond appropriately.
    3. Recognition that Preston’s Smithfield presents information that guests will respond to in different ways; should possess the maturity and ability to respond appropriately and professionally if faced with a guest responding emotionally to the subject matter.
    4. Should be able to work under pressure and around large crowds of varying ages.
    5. Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with all guests and staff.
    6. Should be able to shift between tasks quickly, in order to fill in a position typically done by paid staff - Docents should expect to work as supporting members of the organization.
  4. Environment:
    1. Must be able to work in indoor and outdoor locations in all seasons (including sunny and inclement weather) during the course of a shift.
    2. Ability to come prepared to work outside (daily garden maintenance, trash collection etc.) regardless of weather conditions.

Statement on Racism, Slavery, and Discrimination

"The Smithfield-Preston Foundation acknowledges and laments the role slavery played in William Preston's Smithfield and the ongoing racial injustice that stemmed from that institution across the United States. Enslaved African Americans and their achievements in the face of slavery’s oppression belong at the center of the Smithfield story. We pledge to redouble our efforts to tell these stories as we strive to foster a more honest reckoning with our racial history. The Foundation, along with all those associated with Smithfield, decries all forms of racism and intolerance, and fully supports the rights of all humans regardless of race, skin color, creed, gender, orientation, or ability. All human life is precious. We stand in unity with those who preserve the rights of all people."


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PO BOX 11531, BLACKSBURG, VA 24062, US

Mission Statement

The Smithfield-Preston Foundation seeks to inspire a new generation through the stories and values of all those who lived at Smithfield. These values are courage, leadership, education, and justice. Its purpose is to help people gain perspective from the past, insight for the present, and inspiration for the future.


Smithfield is located in what is now Blacksburg, Virginia. It was built between 1772
- 1774 and is the ancestral home of the Preston family. Today, as a museum, it aspires to
provide perspective from the past, insight for the present, and inspiration for
the future. The stories at William Preston's Smithfield influence people to be
courageous and to seek justice by acting as leaders in their lives and communities. At
William Preston’s Smithfield, we focus on four main values: courage, leadership and
education, and justice.
It is our goal to make Smithfield into a place that is inclusive to all people groups.
Smithfield tells histories that are often inspiring and sometimes really challenging.
Regardless of the topics we cover, Smithfield fosters dialogue that builds empathy and
understanding. Those connected with it aspire to make Smithfield a safe place for
unsafe ideas.


Arts & Culture
Arts & Culture, Community


We'll work with your schedule.


1000 Smithfield Plantation RoadBlacksburg, VA 24060



  • Adult Education
  • History
  • People Skills
  • Public Speaking
  • Storytelling


  • Teens
  • People 55+
  • Group


  • It is up to the applicant, we are flexible since it is a volunteering opportunity

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