Tell Me About It: Teaching the past to future generations

September 2, 2012

Tell Me About It: An interview with Sue Clover. HER ROLE: Allen County Museum docent trainer.

1. What do you do at the museum?

As a volunteer, I lead school tours and adult tours that are requested. I also am here on duty for people who just want to walk through and see our museum. Iím also a member of the board and that is how I am in charge of the docents. Everything I do is strictly volunteer.

2. How many hours do you work?

Itís about 150 hours a year. That can be divided up into whatever ways it is needed. To be a docent, you are required to give 60 hours a year anyway.

3. How long has there been a docent program at the museum?

The docent program started in 1977.

4. How long have you been here?

I started here in 1989. I retired from Wapak schools where I taught home economics.

5. What is a docentís job description?

A docent can be male or female and would probably be 20 or older. Usually, the docents are older, retired people who have the time and want to give back to the community, but not always. They have to like people. You are doing a service to others by explaining the historical meaning of items in the museum. You can have two or three people, individuals or large school groups. We also serve a wide range of ages. I think the youngest Iíve had are a group of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. There is a real gamut of things that you do.

6. Do you have to have any special education or skills to be a docent?

Yes, I think it helps if you have an interest in history, and Lima history in particular. You need to be able to relate to people of all ages. I think you get to meet a lot of really interesting people doing this.

7. What is the docent training like?

First, we have docent week. That starts for new docents on Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. to noon. The experienced docents join them on Tuesday through Friday at those same times. We try to have two to three different speakers on topics that are associated with happenings like the Civil War or War of 1812. We might talk about the new exhibits weíve added, as well. They will learn by following the experienced docents around while they are showing the museum to visitors. They also have to learn about the exhibits in detail. While you can carry notes, sometimes you are talking so fast that itís hard to have to read notes.

8. Is the training just that one week?

No, we also have a docent meeting once a month. We talk about any particular happenings coming up or any particular problems and try to solve those.

9. How many docents do you have and do you get a lot of new ones every year?

We have anywhere from 35 to 45 docents. We hope to get 10 or more new docents this year, but sometimes weíll only get four or five. You never know. Of those new ones, some decided they donít want to do it. It is quite a bit of responsibility.

10. How does someone volunteer to be a docent?

Well, they can come into the museum and fill in the paperwork and then just show up at 9 a.m. on Sept. 10, or they can contact the childrenís museum director, Sarah Rish at 419-222-9426.

11. What do you wish everyone knew about the Allen County Museum?

I wish they knew we are an accredited museum. We are also the only county museum in the state of Ohio, and there are only about 25 county museums in the whole country. People donít realize what a wonderful museum we have here in Lima.

Sue Clover