The University of Arizona

Tumamoc's Walking Docent Training Starts Saturday

By Mari N. Jensen, College of Science | February 6, 2012

Docents teach visitors about Tumamoc Hill's scientific and cultural history.

The first class of Tumamoc Hill Walking Docents. (Credit: Pamela Pelletier/UA College of Science)
The first class of Tumamoc Hill Walking Docents. (Credit: Pamela Pelletier/UA College of Science)
Walkers on Tumamoc Hill Road. (Credit: Shipherd Reed/UA College of Science)
Walkers on Tumamoc Hill Road. (Credit: Shipherd Reed/UA College of Science)

UA Science: Tumamoc is looking for people who are interested in science and want to share their excitement, knowledge and skills by volunteering to become "walking docents" at Tumamoc Hill.

The docents will provide information about Tumamoc's rich archaeology, ecology, scientific and cultural history to the many people who regularly "walk the hill."

The training sessions are free, and the first one is Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon.

"Our program is successful because of the dedication of our docents to Tumamoc and the community," said Pamela Pelletier, community planner for UA Science: Tumamoc, part of the University of Arizona's College of Science. "Without them, this program would not exist."

Tumamoc Walking Docents recently participated in the Celebrate Tumamoc event, where they shared information about the research and history of Tumamoc with the many community members who attended.

People who wish to become walking docents must register in advance by contacting Pamela Pelletier at 520-248-9933 or by email at Each training session is limited to 40 people. To quality as a docent, a person must attend one of the three sessions.

The three training sessions will cover Tumamoc's archeology, ecology and cultural history. Once trained, the walking docents will be present along Tumamoc Hill Road to share the information they learned with hill walkers.

Tumamoc Hill Road is open to recreational walkers weekdays before 7:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. and all day Saturdays and Sundays.


Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to noon

Paul and Suzanne Fish, curators at the Arizona State Museum and UA professors of anthropology, will teach docent trainees about the rich archaeological history of Tumamoc Hill and its importance to the ancient peoples of the Tucson Basin. Their talk is titled, "Trincheras Sites in Time, Space, and Society." Trincheras, the massive walls and terraces surrounding Tumamoc's summit, represent one of the earliest communal-scale constructions in the U.S. Southwest.

Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to noon

Ray Turner, retired plant ecologist from the U. S. Geological Survey, will give a lecture on "The History of the Desert Laboratory," beginning with the founding of the lab in 1903 by the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Turner monitored the Desert Laboratory's permanent vegetation plots for decades and established the lab's repeat photography collection.

Feb. 29, 6-8 p.m.

Jennifer Gremer, a postdoctoral research associate in the UA's department of ecology and evolutionary biology, will give a talk on "Physiological traits and life histories of Sonoran Desert winter annuals: Coping with a variable environment." Researchers from the UA have been studying winter annual plants on Tumamoc for more than 25 years.

Classes will be taught in the library of Tumamoc's main building – the one attached to the greenhouse.

Docent trainees must park at the base of the hill and either walk up to the library building or take the van shuttle. Trainees who wish to walk should allow enough time to arrive at the training on time. It's about a 20-to-25-minute walk from the base of the hill to the library. The address for Tumamoc is 1675 W. Anklam Road. 

The van shuttle will start 30 minutes before the start of the session, and the last van will leave the base of the hill 10 minutes before the start of the session.


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Pamela Pelletier

UA College of Science