The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will host a Museum Educator Open House on Monday, August 29, 10:00–11:30 AM for anyone interested in leading school groups on field trips at the Museum.
Becoming a Museum educator requires no prior experience: Museum staff offer in-depth training and all of the support and flexibility a Museum educator needs to succeed.
“You learn so much,” says Educator Mary Tanga, Ph.D., who joined the program in 2019 after spending a summer volunteering in the Museum’s Butterfly Pavilion. Dr. Tanga’s background as a pharmaceutical research scientist was “very different from this, with kids! I found that while I might have a fairly in-depth knowledge of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, I’ve got nada-zip on dinosaurs! So I’ve learned a lot, it’s been amazing.”
In addition to learning from the in-depth training—drawing on Museum experts in a wide array of topics—the volunteers also enjoy camaraderie and learn from each other across their varied backgrounds. “A few are former teachers,” Tanga explains, “and you learn so much about how to keep the children focused and interested by following some of them around.”
Volunteer Museum educators lead schoolchildren in programs designed by Museum staff to nurture children’s natural curiosity and interest in collaboration. “Letting that natural tendency run wild is what makes it a really enjoyable experience,” says Tanga. “You want the children to have a fabulous, positive science experience.”
The natural environment of the Museum helps Museum educators create those positive experiences. “It is an amazing place, this outdoor space. Some of the programs are outside, and the children just love it.” Tanga says. “They have so much fun here.” Children are observant and clued-in to the challenges facing the planet today, too: “They want to help preserve the environment,” and adults can provide science-based answers to their questions.
New Museum educators commit to attending training classes on Mondays 10:00–11:30 AM, plus one additional weekday morning to shadow experienced educators or lead tours when ready.