By: Pat Reeder | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2008
Andy Hogan, Will Rogers Memorial Museum historical guide and interpreter, shows Susan Rollins “the ropes” at the Claremore Memorial. Rollins is in the process of recruiting volunteers for docent training to help in various activities and projects at the Claremore Memorial and Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch.
Friends of Will Rogers will soon be taking on a new meaning. A docent volunteer program is being developed to have trained docents in place in time to help with the 2008 Will Rogers Days and 70th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum.
Susan Rollins, certified docent at Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa and a Friend of Will Rogers, is developing a training program for volunteers at the Claremore Memorial and Will Rogers Ranch, according to Steve Gragert, Museums director.
“We are very excited and eager to launch our new volunteer program. It will offer friends of the Will Rogers Memorial Museums meaningful and diverse opportunities to contribute their expertise and time. We feel blessed that Susan has volunteered to develop and coordinate the program. She brings to it bountiful experience, a passion for museums and a love of Will Rogers,” said Gragert.
Volunteer Ropers activities can include helping in the Memorial store, greeting visitors, assisting with tours and special events, as well as other activities and projects.
Persons interested in volunteering in the docent program can submit a letter of interest, providing contact information and a brief background. People of all ages, men and women, will be needed seven days a week. Letters of interest can be mailed to Susan Rollins, P.O. Box 157, Claremore, OK 74019, or left in the Will Rogers Memorial Museum store. The store is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
“This will be a very fun project,” said Rollins, “And a fun way to incorporate area Will Rogers admirers in activities of the Memorial.”
Docents will be required to complete a training program to familiarize them with the Will Rogers persona, as well as the Memorial and Birthplace and all aspects of Museums functions.
Docents will need to be familiar with Will Rogers’ writings and act as a resource on his various methods of communications to assist in the Museums’ mission to collect, preserve and share the life, wisdom and humor of Will Rogers for all generations.
Rollins said the goal is to have at least 10 docents in place in time for Will Rogers Days November 1 through 4.
Although it has been many years since a docent program has been involved in the Claremore and Oologah museums, docents have an extensive role in the Will Rogers Park Ranch in Santa Monica, California.
Rollins has conducted more than 20 tours at Gilcrease including the special Charles Bank Wilson exhibit. She participates in the Computer Discover Center (known as Kravis Discovery Center) at Gilcrease, where she is responsible during her shifts to inform the attending public about the artifacts that are stored and on display at the Discovery Center.
Before her docent activities at Gilcrease, she spent more than 30 years in the personnel business as a recruiter and owner of an employment agency. She has a bachelor's degree from Lesley College of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rollins knows about Will Rogers. Her husband, Peter, a retired Oklahoma State University professor, was involved in the OSU Will Rogers Project, compiling 22 volumes of writings of Will Roger. He produced a 1976 history film, “Will Rogers 1920s: A Cowboy’s Guide to the Times.”