Note: Jeremy is CHCI’s Docent of the Month for July, 2007. Docents are volunteers at CHCI who help make our Chimposiums possible: they greet guests, work the gift shop, give lectures, and guide guests during observations.
CHCI: How did you become a docent? How did you hear about the program? What were your goals for your experience as a docent?
JM: I heard about the docent program during my first visit to a Chimposium. I asked one of the volunteers on staff how they got involved. Once I learned how to get involved, I grabbed an application from a docent at the time and turned one in as soon as possible. I really wanted to get involved and help educate the public about the dangers that chimpanzees face, because I learned so much that day and wanted to learn more.
[Note: If you are interested in becoming a docent, visit the docenting page at the CHCI site.]
CHCI: What have you learned from the docent program? Has it changed your perceptions about yourself, chimpanzees, and other non-human animals?
JM: I’ve learned a lot from the docent program since getting involved. I never knew about the danger facing chimpanzees in the biomedical or entertainment industries, or the threats to free-living chimpanzee cultures. Once I learned about the harsh reality to these amazing beings, I wanted to get involved and do my best to educate those around me as well the public. Bushmeat is probably one of the topics that I have learned the most about since getting involved in this program. I will admit that I had no idea what bushmeat was until I went to a Chimposium. Being around Washoe and her family and learning about them as well as free living chimpanzees has really opened my eyes to the reality of life for chimpanzees around the world.
CHCI: What has been your fondest memory? What is your favorite comment or question from a guest? What has been the hardest part of docenting? What has been the most valuable part?
JM: My fondest memory so far was when a family came up to me after the Chimposium was over and told that they learned so much and will never see things the same again. They said I really got through to them and that they were amazed at how much they learned. I enjoy knowing that some people really get the message we send and want to help. I always enjoy reading comments from kids and from people who say that they learned something. Even if it is only one small detail, I still enjoy knowing that they got something from the Chimposium.
The hardest part of docenting so far has been trying to communicate with those who believe that animals should be treated below us humans. I ever know what to say but I always try to listen and give positive feedback even if I disagree with their comments.
The most valuable part of docenting goes back to knowing that some people learn and enjoy the chimposium. I enjoy knowing that people learn from this program because then they have knowledge in which they can pass it along. I always enjoy people telling me that they came here because they heard good thing about it from a friend.