Certified Volunteer Training: Docent

This program trains volunteers to become a volunteer docent for Trees Atlanta’s walking tours of trees or prepare to speak to groups about Trees Atlanta’s mission and projects. The Docent Training Program focuses on how to lead a walking tour of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum and can be applied to any speaking role when representing Trees Atlanta.

Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Walking Tour

Trees Atlanta was instrumental in helping to inspire and implement a linear arboretum as part of Atlanta’s world-renown urban redevelopment project known as the Atlanta BeltLine. The Atlanta BeltLine’s path is a 22-mile loop circumnavigating the core of the City of Atlanta; an arboretum has been designed to parallel the entire transit corridor. The arboretum’s purpose is to help educate and demonstrate the diversity, benefits, and beauty of trees in our city.

Trees Atlanta hosts walking tours of the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside and Westside Trails (as well as tours of Neighborhood Arboreta and other treed areas, and also include tours of trees via bike). Our trained docents learn the basic skills to lead a small group on a walking tour that includes interesting horticultural information about the tree and plant species planted in the arboretum, as well as notable facts about the Atlanta BeltLine and the historical context of the neighborhoods that it passes through.

Tours are free and are lead weekly through Spring and Fall, with a reduced schedule in Summer and Winter. Docents have the options to pick the tours and schedule they’d like to volunteer to lead. Each tour requires walking a distance of approximately 1 to 1.5 miles and return to the starting point. Tours are lead in all weather (rain or shine) unless severe weather presents a danger to participants.

What is a Trees Atlanta Docent?

Docents bring the Trees Atlanta mission alive through a guided tour of trees or at other speaking engagements.

Each Docent can choose how they want to be an ambassador for Trees Atlanta’s programs. The curriculum has been designed to allow each student to leverage their personal interests, talents, and preferences into a tour uniquely of their own. For example, one of our Docents likes to spend more time around the Spiller Field section of the Eastside Trail where he unfolds the rich history of the historic Black baseball team, known as the Atlanta Crackers, and where the same magnolias that stood watch over those teams are still standing there today.


You’ll learn a lot about our organization, our city, and the importance of urban forests. The training program includes 5 sessions that includes information on Atlanta’s history as related to the Atlanta BeltLine and horticultural information (trees, plants, and grasses) of the plant species planted in the arboretum.


Students receive classroom resources, including classroom handouts, access online to class presentations, coffee and light snacks during classroom sessions, and a “Certificate of Completion” if attendance and participation requirements are met. As an ongoing benefit, students are able to “audit” any class again in the future if classroom space allows.

Students who earn their Certified TreeKeeper recognition are given a Trees Atlanta Docent polo shirt.

What’s required to be a Docent?

No formal background or expertise is required. We will teach you all you need to know to succeed in this volunteer role. Bring your personal talents, expertise, and interests to curate customized tours. Whatever your style, there’s a Docent role that you’ll find fulfilling.

To receive a “Certificate of Completion” for the class, students must participate in the classroom lessons in a range of skills from Trees Atlanta’s history and mission, the Atlanta BeltLine, basic plant identification and urban ecology, and interpretive tour and public speaking skills. To become a Certified Volunteer, you will need to meet the following requirements.

What Required to be a Certified Volunteer Docent?

After classroom training, students will complete a mock tour and shadow trained docents prior to leading their own tours.

Certified Volunteers (CVs) are asked to volunteer regularly in a skilled role each year. Some CVs lead 1 to 2 events monthly, others choose to volunteers 4 times in the year. We know our volunteers are engaged in work, family, and other commitments. There is a minimum service requirement to maintain “CV” status, but all volunteers are always welcome to participate in Trees Atlanta’s many continuing education programs, as well as special social events for our certified volunteers.

When is the next class?

Classes meet in person or online on Saturdays from 9 am to noon in January and February. Check our Calendar to register for the next class. Find the upcoming Docent class registration in the month of January; if no event is found, registration is not yet open or is closed until the next year.

Is there is fee? Yes. However we offer a limited number of scholarships each year. Please contact if you wish to inquire about receiving a scholarship.

Where are the classes? We meet at our offices at 825 Warner Street SW in the Oakland City neighborhood of Atlanta. Our classes are a blend of sessions in the classroom and at various outdoor sites depending upon the topic or demonstration. All offsite locations are nearby our offices or otherwise specified ahead of time.


Have more questions? Please email:

See all Volunteer Pathways, including all Certified Volunteer training programs.