What is the Exploring Joara Foundation Docent Program?


Docent with fourth grade class at Catawba Meadows

The Exploring Joara Foundation is inviting all interested persons to join its new docent program. Participants will be provided docent training and education so they can confidently share the story of the Berry site, Joara, and Fort San Juan through programs for school groups and the public. No previous background or experience is necessary. EJF is looking for enthusiastic lifelong learners interested in ensuring we deliver the best possible programs and experiences. Dr. David Moore, archeologist at Warren Wilson College, will lead the program, preparing docents through several educational sessions.

Why Become a Docent?

Becoming an EJF docent will be a rewarding and lifechanging experience. It is an opportunity to work with our diverse community, teaching about our rich historic past in ways only EJF can, through hands-on archaeological experiences, guided tours, and educational programs.

What Will a Docent Learn?

Over 30 years of archaeological research at the Berry site has brought to light a poorly known part of Native American history and the history of the early American colonial frontier. The Berry site is the location of the previously undiscovered 16″ century Native American town of Joara and the location of Fort San Juan. Established in 1567 by Spanish colonizers under Captain Juan Pardo, Fort San Juan represents the earliest European settlement in the interior of the United States, 18 years before the English landed at Roanoke and 40 years before the founding of Jamestown. EJF is dedicated to telling the story of regional Native Americans as well as that of Fort San Juan.

EJF Museum Exhibit

Future Docents at the Museum!

ln 2017, EJF created a museum exhibit about Joara and Fort San Juan. The exhibit was hosted at the History Museum of Burke County for two years and has since traveled to the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, The Swannanoa Valley Museum in Black Mountain, the Smith-McDowell House in Asheville, and the Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill College. The exhibit is currently showcased at the Native American Studies Center at USC-Lancaster in Lancaster, SC.

EJF hopes to partner with the Burke County History Museum to develop a new permanent exhibit in Morganton which will create an additional opportunity and venue for our future docents to share the story of Joara and Fort San Juan.

When and Where are Training Days?

Participants may attend one or more of the training sessions.  If they want to work with the public or school groups, they need to attend at least two days.

Docent Training 2024 (All dates are from 9:00am-12:00pm)
Jan. 27– Introduction to EJF, meet at Wall Center
Feb. 10– Working with school groups and the public at the Living History Village, weather permitting meet at the Living History Village at Catawba Meadows Park, Morganton
Feb. 24– Working with School groups and the Public at the Berry site, weather permitting meet at Berry site.

How do I sign up?

Click the link below and you will be directed to the Docent Volunteer Form.

EJF Docent Volunteer Form

Docents intending to work with youth may be asked to submit to a background check.