Docent Training

Who We Are

Explore Buffalo, established in 2013, is the premier tour organization showcasing the unique history and architecture of Western New York with a variety of tours by foot, bike, boat, and bus.  Our knowledgeable and engaging volunteer tour docents offer their personal passions, expertise, and background to make a meaningful tour experience for our guests. Docents are carefully selected and trained to serve as the face of Explore Buffalo and serve as ambassadors to our great city.

Explore Buffalo docents come from all walks of life, and share a few common traits. We are curious and creative lifelong learners who are  passionate about architecture and history in Buffalo and enjoy interacting with people from all over the world.

Applying to be an Explore Buffalo Docent

Applications to the 2024 Winter Docent Class are Closed

We will hold Information Sessions that will discuss what it takes to be a docent and the application process.  Attendance at one of these Information Sessions is mandatory.

Applications will be accepted until January 19, 2024. We will notify successful candidates by January 25, 2024.  Docent classes will begin in February and continue through the spring. Attendance at all classes, both in-person and remotely, are required.

  • Upon acceptance, a class fee of $95 will be required from participants by Wednesday, January 31, 2024 . This class fee covers the cost of materials for the class, and includes a portable microphone, Explore Buffalo messenger bag, and other tour supplies. Scholarships are available for the Docent Training Class – please contact Brad Hahn at for more information.

Who Qualifies to be an Explore Buffalo Docent? 

We accept adults of all backgrounds. You must have a flexible enough schedule to attend all training sessions. We do not accept people who work for or plan to work for a tour company. Applicants must be proficient with technology including Zoom, email, and texts.

What happens next? 

If you are accepted into the docent training program and can attend the scheduled dates, we will pair you with a docent mentor to assist you in the training process.

About Docent Training 

Our docent training is a rigorous experience. The program aims to give new docents a broad understanding of architecture, history as well as the confidence and skills necessary to lead tours. Once your docent training is complete, you’ll join the ranks of Explore Buffalo docents who happily share their knowledge and passion for Buffalo, its world-class architecture, and the urban environment.

Components of Docent Training 

The first significant component of training is The Fundamentals.  These classes will meet both on Zoom and in-person. Here you will learn about Buffalo’s history and architecture as well as techniques and skills needed to develop and conduct tours. This will include two classes downtown, Landmark 1 & 2, where we explore the best of Buffalo’s landmark buildings.

The Fundamentals:

  • Saturday, February 3, 2024, 10am-12pm, First Presbyterian Church
  • Thursday, February 8, 2024, 6-8pm, Zoom
  • Thursday, February 15, 2024, 6-8pm,  Zoom
  • Saturday, February 24, 2024, 10am-12pm, First Presbyterian Church
  • Thursday, February 29, 2024, 6-8pm Zoom
  • Saturday, March 9, 2024, 10am-12pm, Landmarks Day 1, Downtown location TBA
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024, 6-8 pm, Zoom
  • Saturday, March 23, 2024, 10am-12 pm, Landmarks Day 2, Downtown location TBA
  • Wednesday, March 27, 2024, 6-8 pm, Zoom
  • Saturday, April 13, 2024, 10am-12 pm, First Presbyterian Church

Additionally, you will be required to attend three Observational Training tours between March 11 and April 14. Here you will attend an abbreviated version of one of our public tours to observe various docents, and their diverse styles presenting and leading tours. A list of various tours, dates and times to choose from will be provided later.

Following the Fundamentals is the Tour Certification. During the Tour Certification process, trainees will learn their first tour, either a public tour or a student/family tour. You will be given a list of tours from which to choose one tour, and be matched with an experienced docent who will teach you that tour.

 Tour Certification: Begins April 14, 2024 and to be completed by May 19, 2024

After graduating from your first tour, you are encouraged to lead that tour at least twice a month to gain experience during the 2024 tour season. We also encourage you to learn additional tours in the upcoming years.

The following illustration provides context for the application and interview process as well as docent training.

Questions? Please contact Brad Hahn at