Docent Training


We are seeking docents of all ages, ethnicities, races, and backgrounds to share their love of Buffalo and help us tell Buffalo’s stories! Volunteer docents lead all of Explore Buffalo’s tours: more than 1,000 tours per year. Our 2023 Docent Class begins in February 2023 and each new docent will learn one tour to lead during the summer of 2023. Learn more about this year’s class below and apply today!

What do Explore Buffalo docents do?

  • Volunteer docents lead all of Explore Buffalo’s tours, including regularly scheduled and private group tours for the general public, and school tours for thousands of students from elementary to high school. With hundreds of tours given each year, there are many opportunities to participate!

Why become a docent for Explore Buffalo?

  • Being a docent for Explore Buffalo is fun! What could be more rewarding than showing Buffalo’s incredible architecture and history to people from around the world?
  • Being a docent is a great way to meet new people within Explore Buffalo or among our many community partners. Explore Buffalo organizes regular social events for docents and volunteers.

Who can become a docent for Explore Buffalo?

  • Anyone can become a docent! All that is required is an interest in and passion for Buffalo’s history and architecture.
  • You are supplied with thorough background information and reading materials, not a script to be memorized. We encourage you to develop your knowledge of Buffalo and your unique voice as a storyteller that will convey the growing and changing story of our city.

Spring 2023 Docent Training Class

Objective: At the end of the Spring 2023 Docent Training Class, the docent trainee will have gained the following:

  1. An overview of the architecture and history of the Buffalo Niagara region
  2. Basic docent skills
  3. Confidence in public speaking
  4. Successful graduation for one Explore Buffalo tour

Class Overview: 

  • The Spring 2023 Docent Training Class is a two part (Part A and Part B), multi-faceted learning experience  that combines classes in person at First Presbyterian Church on Symphony Circle; classes on Zoom; various Master Docent-led training tours; and “on-the-street” tour training featuring our beautiful downtown landmark buildings. 
  • Current Explore Buffalo docents are welcome to attend any portion of this training to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Spring 2023 Docent Training Class Part A: 

  • Part A will begin on Saturday, February 4, 2023 and continue through Saturday, April 1, 2023. We will meet both in-person and on Zoom.
  • In-person classes will give us a chance to meet each other and practice docent skills.
  • Interactive virtual classes via Zoom will provide the foundation of Buffalo’s rich history from 1679 to present day. This portion of training will be presented as a timeline of topics that will include major historical events, notable people, growth of industry, and significant architecture.
  • Trainees are expected to attend and actively participate in all classes.
  • Each week there will be readings for you to complete and a short weekly presentation for you to prepare.
  • You will learn the skills and techniques needed to build your confidence and the skill level needed for you to prepare and lead a successful tour.
  • Watch & Learn One Hour Training Tours: Master Docents will be offering various one-hour training tours throughout training. This is a great opportunity to see experienced docents in action and enjoy a portion of our regularly scheduled tours. Trainees must attend at least two of these tours.
  • Landmark Tour Days: You will then be given “on the street” experience learning about some of downtown Buffalo’s landmark buildings as we meet downtown for classes. You will prepare a tour stop and present it to your classmates.
  • Relax and have fun! You will be assigned a mentor to help you each step of the way.

Part A Class Schedule: 

  • Week 1 – Saturday, February 4, 10am-12:30pm at First Presbyterian Church
  • Week 2 – Thursday, February 9, 6-8pm – Zoom
  • Week 3 – Thursday, February 16, 6-8pm – Zoom
  • Week 4 – February 19-25 – Bye Week, Optional Activities Planned
  • Week 5 – Saturday, March 4, 10am-12pm at First Presbyterian Church
  • Week 6 – Thursday, March 9, 6-8pm – Zoom
  • Week 7 – Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm, Downtown Landmarks #1 (In person)
  • Week 8 – Thursday, March 23, 6-8pm – Zoom
  • Week 9 – Saturday, April 1, 10am-12pm, Downtown Landmarks #2 (In person)

Attendance: Trainees are expected to attend all classes. Attendance is critical as the classes are designed to teach you the history of Buffalo in a timeline format. Additionally, each week, you will learn docent skills needed to give tours competently and confidently. We do understand that there may be a date when attendance is not possible due to illness or other reasons. We will do our best to work with you to make up for missed material.

Spring 2023 Docent Training Class Part B: 

This portion of the docent training class continues after April 1, and is targeted for completion by May 20, 2023.  Several exciting tours have been selected to be offered to the Class of 2023 to learn. Trainees will select one tour they feel most interested in giving in the 2023 tour season. You will be paired with a Master Docent who will provide the tour notes, teach you the tour, and encourage lots of practice. To complete your training, you must successfully complete a graduation tour with your Master Docent.

Information Session: 

An information session about the Spring 2023 Docent Training Class will be on Thursday, January 5, 2023 at 6pm on Zoom. This will be approximately one hour, with time for Q&A.

Click to RSVP for the Information Session 

Application Process: 

  • Anyone interested in joining the Spring 2023 Docent Training Class should fill out the online application form available below as the first step of the application process. The application deadline for the Spring 2023 Class is Friday, January 20, 2023. 
  • After receiving your application, we will call you to discuss the class and your application. Explore Buffalo will notify all applicants regarding acceptance into the Spring 2023 Docent Training Class via email. Space is limited in the Docent Training Class.
  • Upon acceptance, a class fee of $95 will be required from participants by Wednesday, February 1, 2023 . 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. 

Applications for the Spring 2023 Docent Training Class are Closed

Questions? Please contact Brad Hahn at