Thames River Heritage Park to sponsor inaugural Docent Academy

NEW LONDON, CT -- Thames River Heritage Park announced the creation of a new program to support the heritage sites along the Thames. Modeled after the successful Portland (Maine) History Docent (PHD) training program, the inaugural Thames River Heritage Park Docent Academy – a 10-week training program for current and prospective volunteer guides – will begin on Thursday, March 10, 2022 and meeting every Thursday morning from 9 AM – 12 PM.

A collaborative effort by Thames River Heritage Park Foundation and the heritage sites that comprise the Park – Avery-Copp House Museum, Bill Memorial Library, Ebenezer Avery House, Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, Fort Trumbull State Park, Garde Arts Center, Hempsted Houses, Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Monte Cristo Cottage, Nathan Hale School House, Old Town Mill, NL Black Heritage Trail, Shaw Mansion/NL County Historical Society, Submarine Force Library and Museum / USS Nautilus – the Thames River Heritage Park Docent Academy features several weeks of lively and informative talks and presentations, combined with site visits to each participating site. Sessions include presentations on the history of the southern end Thames River estuary, visitor experience, Gilded Age, whaling industry, colonial life, the battle of Fort Griswold, the burning of New London and more.

“The heritage sites that belong to the Park are very excited about this program. It will give participants a taste of the rich heritage of New London and Groton and familiarize both present and new volunteers with sites and programs to be discovered and explored on the Thames,” stated Catherine Foley, executive director.

Upon graduation, TRHP Docent Academy participants become eligible to volunteer at the site(s) of their choice. Site-specific orientation and training are scheduled on an individual basis by the host site. Graduates are asked to commit to a year of volunteer time in a mutually agreeable role at one of the heritage sites or institutional partner agencies.

Registration for the program is $25 and includes private tours of heritage sites, stimulating presentations, refreshment breaks, Interpreter’s Guide to the Thames River Heritage Park, and the opportunity to graduate with new and perhaps long-time friends in the first class of the Thames River Heritage Park Docent Academy.

This program is made possible thanks to a generous grant from Connecticut Humanities - connecting people to the history, literature and culture of Connecticut – and members and donors who support Thames River Heritage Park Foundation.

For more information go to or contact Catherine Foley at