Docent Program

Docent ProgramThe Oregon National Primate Research Center attracts over 3000 visitors each year. Tours are scheduled Monday-Friday from 9-5 p.m. Visitors include educational groups, civic groups, and members of the general public who are over the age of 10. Although, long experience tells us that the best experience for visitors occurs when the group size is no larger than 24; the reality is that, due to school funding issues, the groups that visit the Center are frequently much larger than this. In order to give every visitor the best possible experience, large groups are divided into smaller, more intimate groups. This is where the ONPRC Docent Program comes in.

What is a docent?

The word “docent” comes from the Latin word docere, which means “to teach.” ONPRC Docents lead tours of the Primate Center, pointing out areas of interest, answering questions, and generally serving as a vital link between the Center and the public.

Duties of an ONPRC Docent

ONPRC Docents are expected to:

  • Present accurate information on the history, mission, and current research being conducted at the Center
  • Communicate directly with visitors of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability
  • Attend training sessions as required
  • Maintain an attitude of flexibility and respect in all relationships with visitors, staff, and peers
  • Be prompt and reliable in reporting for scheduled work and training sessions
  • Record and report all hours of volunteer services
  • Wear a nametag during meetings, training sessions, and while representing the Primate Center in any official capacity

Qualifications of an ONPRC Docent

The ONPRC Docent Program is open to all persons who are 18 years of age and older.  All docents must pass a background check, provide yearly proof of a negative PPD (test for tuberculosis), and complete required training and coursework related to animal care and personal safety.

Additional qualifications include:

  • Strong interest in science
  • An understanding of the importance of biomedical research
  • Ability to learn accurate, detailed information and present it effectively to visitors
  • Friendly, patient, and courteous manner
  • Ability to walk and stand for long periods of time
  • Ability to walk up stairs
  • Comfortable speaking to groups
  • Good oral communication skills; clear, strong speaking voice
  • Professional manner and neat appearance


Training occurs during the monthly meeting and "on the job."  Monthly meetings feature presentations by Center researchers, and also time to talk about general information about the history and current status of biomedical research, the various research programs currently underway at the Center, as well as presentation techniques, public speaking tips, and general visitor information


View the application


Please direct your questions about the ONPRC Docent Program to Diana Gordon, Public Information Officer, at (503) 690-5201 or