Trained docents lead two-hour tours for preschool through college students from September through May. Tours include guided visits through the Exhibit Hall, Native Garden and the Preserve. On site facilities include restrooms in the Nature Center, drinking fountains, a gift shop and a small picnic area.
The Madrona Marsh is within walking distance of Wilson Park and the Del Amo Mall. Tours are available by reservation, and are conducted Tuesday-Thursday from 10-12 noon.
Maximum tour size is 60 students plus chaperones, the number of adults required being appropriate to the students’ ages or grade level.
Call the Nature Center at 310-782-3989.
A receptionist will take your information and forward it to our Docent Tour Coordinator. You will receive a call from the Coordinator confirming the details of your tour. When you arrive, your docents will greet you and ask that you break into small groups of 10-20.
During the tour, students will visit the Native Garden, the Exhibit Hall and the Preserve. Each group begins in a different location but each group covers all three areas. Tours take a minimum of two hours. Tours are dependent upon availability of docents. This is not ordinarily a concern.
Docents conduct tours that cover general information; however, they can include specifics tailored to an area of study and age group if this is requested in advance. Docents do not have scripted tours; they lead their group based on what the students observe, the students’ ages, grade level and their interest levels.
The Preserve is a natural habitat, home to many species. All visitors are expected to understand that they are in an area where all life is respected. The animals a visitor may encounter include birds, insects, amphibians (frogs) and reptiles (lizards and snakes). Our mammals are primarily nocturnal and are best observed through taxidermy and study skins in the Exhibit Hall.
In the Native Garden and throughout the Preserve visitors will see native plants which have adapted to live in the Southern California climate. In the Preserve students will gain insight as to how this area looked hundreds of years ago.
What to wear: closed toe walking shoes, a hat with a brim, sunscreen and long pants.
The charge for tours is 50¢ per student. There is no charge for TUSD schools.
Water Lab: A one to two hour water lab is available by reservation for up to 20 third grade and older students. Students use stereo and compound microscopes to observe small and microscopic aquatic animals living in our Preserve water.
Modular Wetlands System: The Preserve has a bio-filtration system which cleans street runoff entering the City Sump. An age appropriate explanation of this system may be offered during tours.
Migratory and Resident Birds: The Preserve is situated on the Pacific Flyway which is the main pathway for western migratory birds throughout the year. Approximately fifty species of birds are residents of the Preserve.
Restoration: Every Saturday throughout the year high school students help restore native plants and remove non-native species in the Preserve. This helps the students fulfill their community service requirements. Applications and more information are available in the Nature Center.
Would you enjoy becoming a volunteer docent and leading school tours? Docents must be 21 years of age or older and pass a background check.
We offer a series of docent training workshops during the summer and fall; we provide lots of support and encouragement all year long.
There are usually 5 training workshops, each are approximately 2 hours long. The workshops cover various topics including: How to Lead a Tour, History of the Preserve, a survey of plants, insects, birds, and mammals and History of the Tongva people. There will be an opportunity to tour with an experienced docent.
Necessary preparation: complete all workshops, take several tours with experienced docents, develop the confidence and ability to supervise a group of students and have the knowledge to talk about the Preserve, Nature Center and Native Garden.
Commitment: available to conduct two to six tours a month from January – May, our busiest time.
Call 310-782-3989 and leave a message for Sarah if you are interested, or complete our online volunteer application linked below.