Topanga docent classes begin

Naturalist training in Topanga State Park begins Sat., Sept. 8 in the historic Skeet Lodge, now the visitor center at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park.

The series of workshops and lectures is offered once a year. Sign-ups are being accepted.

Six classroom sessions with related field work are held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 8 and 22, Oct. 6 and 20, and Nov. 3 and 17.

As part of the training, five interpretive walks with experienced docents will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 16 and 30, Oct. 14 and 28, and Nov. 11.

Trainees will learn about the ecosystem and the natural history of the Santa Monica Mountains.

They will explore the Native American cultures that have thrived here for centuries and view presentations in the field with professional educators from local universities, museums and parks.

The Topanga Canyon Docents is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that has been sharing knowledge of the natural world with park visitors since 1974.

The group sponsors public nature walks from January through June. It provides free outdoor education for schoolchildren, often providing transportation to the park from urban elementary schools.

The docents also give out maps and advice about the trails. They act as trail ambassadors, sharing public knowledge of the natural sciences.

The benefits include outings, field trips and camping opportunities only open to docents. Active members receive free attendance for future training sessions and a Topanga state park yearly parking pass.

Volunteer time qualifies active volunteers for district and statewide parking passes.

The $100 tuition fee includes one first-year membership through December 2019.

For more information, email info@topangacanyondocents.org.

For a registration form, go to topangacanyondocents.org.