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Here’s how to become a docent for Chicago’s hidden garden

The park is one of the few landscapes designated a National Historic Landmark


Calling all history buffs, nature lovers and horticulture nerds! One of Chicago’s most serene, Prairie-style gardens is searching for its next set of docents.

The Lincoln Park Conservancy and the Parks District are looking for docent volunteers for Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, the delightful hidden park near the Lincoln Park Zoo.

If you’ve never been, it’s a real treat. Shrubs, trees, and native wildflowers enshroud a small pond with a little rippling waterfall and geese. A couple of wooded pavilions, stratified stonework and a council ring are tucked into the landscape. And it’s generally empty aside from one or two families and a stray runner.

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The docent training program is a 6-week crash course taught by rotating experts in gardening, native plants, the art of interpretation, Lincoln Park history, and landscape design. You’ll learn all the quirky facts and unknown park history to guide visitors through the Lily Pool or the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens.

We’ve all heard Lincoln Park used to be a cemetery and is named after old Abe Lincoln. But did you know that when it first opened, swans were donated and squirrels were purchased to inhabit the park?

You’ll need to register by Saturday, March 31st and training will begin Saturday, April 8th. Docents will be responsible for giving free tours of Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, one of the only landscapes to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

Want to brush up on the area’s history? Find out more about how the Lily Pool fell into disrepair and was restored to its award-winning 1936 design for 2.4 million on the park’s website.