Sister Anna Voss had a lifelong passion for learning and teaching. She held a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and a Masters of Science in Biology, both from Stanford University. She taught high school and college students in Hawaii and California, creating the statewide science program for all Hawaii Catholic schools. When Sister Anna retired after teaching for 50 years, she brought her passion to her second career as a volunteer at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. A pioneer for the Point Lobos Docent Association, Anna graduated with the first docent class in 1981 and helped develop the docent-training program and accompanying training materials. Many of those materials are still in use today.
In 2011, Carl and Carol Voss and Dave and Caroline Appling created a memorial fund for Sister Anna. Today, this fund has grown to support the Point Lobos Docents and programs educating young people at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Your support of this fund honors Anna’s legacy, her spirit, and her devotion to this very special place. The Point Lobos Docents are a group of highly trained volunteers, working to foster a connection between visitors and our natural world and help people form a positive, sustainable relationship with their environment. Docents are the backbone of the wonderful interpretive and educational programs found within Point Lobos, acting not only as volunteers but also as visionaries to constantly improve and expand on the educational opportunities offered to visitors. The following programs were inspired or developed by docents:
Experience Point Lobos is a program for local fourth graders that helps to support and achieve California Science Content Standards. With two components, a presentation provided by a docent at the school prior to the visit, and a field trip to Point Lobos afterward, the program instills enjoyment, appreciation, and awareness of our natural environment. Schools receive a grant covering the cost of transportation, removing any fees associated with the program, and allowing all students to participate. More than 1,000 students from low-income schools in Gonzales, North Monterey County, Salinas, and Soledad visited the park last year as part of this program, some of who had never seen the ocean.
Easy Access Adventures was created after docents recognized the need for a different interpretive format for people who are elderly or living with physical or developmental disabilities. Rather than leading a walk, which is challenging for a group of people who move at very different paces, docents station themselves at key locations throughout a trail with interpretive equipment like specialized scopes and pelts. This allows visitors to move through the trail at a comfortable speed, often with the help of a caregiver, and spend as much time as they would like at any specific station. In the first year, Easy Access Adventures has served more than 900 people.
The “MINT” program, is a mobile station that is utilized by docents to allow them to interact within the Reserve using a wide selection of interpretive resources. MINT locations might be determined by seasonal events like nesting season at Bird Island or the blooming of spring wildflowers, or it may be staffed in conjunction with special events like school group visits. In testing over the past two summers, we know to expect 100-150 visitors during each 2-hour shift.
Sister Anna would be proud of the incredible contributions that the Point Lobos Docents are making at the Reserve. Please ensure that her legacy lives on by making a gift to the Sister Anna Voss Fund today.