No longer nervous about spiders, Anne finds volunteering an integral part of life.
The BioPark is a community—the people who work here, the people who volunteer here. We are friends, we are colleagues, we help each other, and I think that’s really important.
Anne Manning’s major in botany motivated her to become a Botanic Garden Docent at the ABQ BioPark. Originally from England, Anne moved to Albuquerque in 1990. She heard about BioPark docent training at Curves where she works out. Since 2009, Anne has been volunteering at least once a week at the gardens. She carries her docent training with her outside of the BioPark as well--rescuing a tarantula from an Arizona road and educating bystanders at England’s Kew Gardens about plants. As Anne herself says, “Once a docent, always a docent.”
Why did you decide to become a Botanic Garden Docent?
I have an undergraduate degree in botany, and I decided to be a botanic garden docent since I had some background in the subject.
What do you love most about being a Botanic Garden Docent?
I really enjoy interacting with people, helping them understand these gardens. For instance, we have the Spanish-Moorish Garden. Spanish style was influenced by the Moors, and this garden reflects how New Mexico was settled by the Spaniards. We have a Curandera Garden, showing how both Spaniards and Native Americans cured people with plants. Our 1930s farm shows what it would have been like to be a farmer back then. The Japanese Garden was designed and created by a Japanese master gardener but using native plants. The Botanic Garden expresses the development of the state.
Tell us about a unique experience you’ve had as a Botanic Garden Docent.
When I first started working with the insects and arthropods, I was kind of nervous. One of my docent friends said to me afterward, “I knew you would love the spiders.” And I do. I love these tarantulas. We did an event with insects and arthropods, and children would come in and they could touch them. When people see these bugs, instead of saying “Eew,” it’s “Wow!” That’s fascinating. I carry that out into the world.
What are some of the benefits of volunteering at the BioPark?
It’s a community—the people who work here, the people who volunteer here. We are friends, we are colleagues, we help each other, and I think that’s really important. Teaching at the BioPark enables me to help and meet lots of people while learning more about what the BioPark offers to the city and community. It’s part of my whole life now.
Learn more about volunteering at one of our upcoming volunteer trainings.
- Top: Erato longwing (Heliconius erato) in the PNM Butterfly Pavilion.
- Bottom: Anne teaching Botanic Garden visitors about millipedes.
Interview by Jennifer Sawayda on July 23, 2013.