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Gilroy Garden’s Docents: Feeding a Lifelong Love of Learning A fter volunteering as a docent at Gilroy Gardens for nearly 10 years, Sue Johnston of Morgan Hill explained, “There’s so much to discover there and always more to learn. I wish I could live to 100.” Bob Nunes, a seven-year docent and retiree from IBM after 36 years said, “I didn’t know about anything in this park until I learned about it from other people here. It’s like being a little kid here.” Michael Bonfante began the docent program after seeing similar concepts while touring other theme parks long before he built his own, said Eva Trenbreth, now Human Relations Operations Manager at Gilroy Gardens. Previously, Trenbreth worked in administration for Bonfante at Nob Hill. She followed him 16 years ago to the planning stages of what was originally called Bonfante Gardens, before the City purchased the park. “Pretty soon, docents were in the park to answer questions,” Trenbreth explains. 74 “Little by little the program blossomed, and they wanted to do so much more to give back to community. They all wanted to teach and share their knowledge.” She values their dedication. “They take it very seriously and it’s their passion,” Trenbreth said. “We started out with just a handful of docents, and have grown to about 150 active ones.” Docent Duties As head of the docent program, Trenbreth said she and her staff couldn’t complete an exhaustive list of all the duties docents have undertaken. While most docents are retired people with more free time, some are high school students fulfilling community service hours, and the more experienced docents train and supervise the newer docents. They also clean and maintain park gardens, decorate for Christmas, take the overnight Scout campers on hikes, assist with big HR projects, give tours, hand out maps, and run the stations on Natural Science days GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2016 when school children come to the park on field trips. “One docent has too many allergies to continue coming to the park,” Trenbreth said. “But she feels such a strong commit- ment to the program, so she sends birthday and get well cards to other docents.” Nunes, a San Martin resident, still brings his youngest grandchild to the park when he’s not busy working as a dedicated docent in numerous areas of the park. On Mondays, Nunes takes in the recycling for the docents’ petty cash account. The docent recycling committee uses it to buy lunches for the docents, gifts, or other volunteer expenses. Tuesdays and Wednesdays Nunes does paperwork in his role as docent panel treasurer. Nunes works on the rose crew most Thursdays. But he also instructs the children in the composting and recycling sections for Natural Science days on Thursday and Friday mornings in May and October. From time to time, Nunes has worked Written By Amy McElroy