On hand whatever the weather, in summer and winter both, the volunteer guides from the Friends of the Montréal Botanical Garden welcome visitors with their most beautiful smile. They accompany them on a discovery of the gardens and greenhouses. Their “salary”? A smile, a thank-you and the feeling of having improved the quality of the experience enjoyed by visitors. Moreover, their pride in contributing to the impact of Brother Marie-Victorin’s work is palpable.
People with heart
Who are they? People who are generous and available – the majority of them women – and from all backgrounds. There are more than 50 of them, mostly retirees from teaching, health care, public relations or private enterprise, whose interests and diversified professional experiences “color” their tours and enrich their interactions. What they have in common is a thirst for getting a better handle on the complexity of the plant world.
Off to discover the gardens
These devoted guides continually demonstrate the seriousness of their volunteer commitment. They put in 200 percent and never count the hours devoted to revising their notes and fine-tuning the content of their tours.
They offer visitors a unique and personalized experience, adapting to the needs and expectations of different clienteles. For example, with new arrivals to francization classes, they promote discussion and dialogue. For people with visual impairments, their tour will be sensory. Proof that it works? Groups come back year after year!
Lately, some guides have taken on new challenges by offering theme tours. For instance, visitors can now benefit from more in-depth tours of the Shrub Garden, the Alpine Garden, the Rose Garden and the Marie-Victorin Herbarium.
Ambassadors and guardians: the soul of the Botanical Garden
It’s a win-win situation, and the benefits are numerous for all concerned. The enchanting setting of the Botanical Garden allows guides to take a break and recharge their batteries. They draw energy and serenity from it. A strong sense of belonging drives them: they consider the Botanical Garden to be THEIR garden!
Being able to count on this team of impassioned ambassadors is an invaluable asset for an institution like the Botanical Garden. Personally, I’ve worked alongside them for a little more than 20 years and I feel great respect for their commitment. They inspire me and help me grow. We have fun together, and friendships blossom! I think that besides being the soul of the Botanical Garden, the guides are also its guardians.
Bravo, and long life to them!
Note: The volunteer guides make up the guided-tour committee and work under the aegis of the Friends of the Montréal Botanical Garden.