Volunteer at America’s most popular railroad museum
SACRAMENTO — Fascinated by railroading history? Interested in working on a train? Enjoy working with visitors, children and school groups? The California State Railroad Museum and Old Sacramento State Historic Park (SHP) are now recruiting adults (18 or older) who are interested in volunteering in early 2012 to help communicate the West’s fascinating heritage of railroading and the California Gold Rush.
The volunteer orientation will begin on Saturday, Feb. 25, but interested volunteers must apply and be interviewed in advance. Volunteer applications are being accepted now through Monday, Feb. 6. Community members are encouraged to get involved in this worthwhile program that offers an opportunity to support the local community while learning more about California’s rich history, meeting new people and developing friendships with those who share similar interests.
Anyone who has ever visited the California State Railroad Museum and Old Sacramento has undoubtedly crossed paths with a docent. Dressed in railroad garb or other period attire, these trained volunteers answer questions and discuss history with guests. There are many other volunteers, too. Each year, approximately 600 men and women volunteer for the California State Railroad Museum’s programs — including weekend steam train operations, track construction, restoration and maintenance, even clerical work.
Since the museum’s 1976 inception, volunteers have contributed more than two million hours of service.
As part of their training, candidates are encouraged to consider participating in one or more museum programs. For example, volunteers may choose to serve as docents and museum tour guides; participate in hands-on, interactive educational programs for school groups; or become involved with train operations on the Sacramento Southern Railroad. Volunteer training represents a serious commitment of 84 volunteer hours annually, but the hours are flexible and the rewards can be tremendous.
A background in history is not required. Most of the volunteers began with little knowledge of railroads or the Gold Rush. As they become more familiar with the museum’s varied and frequent programs, many volunteers take on additional responsibilities, such as conducting research or giving talks to community organizations about the museum. Perks for active volunteers include free parking while on duty, invitation to an annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet, complimentary museum membership and the chance to meet new and interesting people.
Interested volunteers are encouraged can download a volunteer application at parks.ca.gov/CapitalDistrict or contact the museum’s volunteer training coordinator at (916) 324-7593.