How We Began

The Topanga Canyon Docents was started in 1974 by a group of friends and activists who wanted to share their love of nature and the Santa Monica Mountains.

Topanga Canyon Docents Class of 2019

Who We Are Now

The Topanga Canyon Docents are volunteer naturalists who have received in-depth training in natural history as it applies to Topanga State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains from specialists and college level educators. We enthusiastically share our knowledge about the wildlife, plants and history of Topanga State Park with school groups and the public during our docent led walks and at the Visitor Center.

Our Mission


Topanga State Park is considered the largest wildlands park in the world that lies within an urban border (the City of Los Angeles). Its 25 square mile spread provides a unique wilderness experience close to home. Our mission is to share our knowledge of the flora, fauna and history by exploring the trails and historic Visitorʼs Center with park visitors. Our public activities take place from January to June of each year.

Indigo Bunting. Photo by Chris Tosdevin

Our Training

To become a docent we offer a Docent Training course given each fall at the Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park. Upon completion of the 45 hours of classroom and field training, we earn the Topanga Canyon Docent certificate, name badge and Topanga State Park parking pass, which are presented at a picnic to celebrate the new docent trainees. You can learn more about this course by going to the Docent Training page.

Meet Our Board

We are a group of 12 volunteer docents that meet regularly to discuss and plan our programs and upcoming events. Any docent is welcome to attend our meetings. We hold annual elections for board member positions.

Board Members

Patricia Hill, President
Karin Benson, Vice-President
Candace De Puy, Secretary
Roger Heyman, Treasurer
Doug Allan
Jim Clements
Don Frampton
Read Howarth
Wakako Rollinger
Frank Weeks
Dora Fourcade

Volunteer Staff

Visitor Center and Nature Station, Don Frampton
Sunday and Saturday Walks, Harry Palmer
School Walks, Karin Benson
Newsletter, Lucinda Mittleman and Wakako Rollinger
Publicity, Read Howarth
Website, Lisa Stateman

Board Emeritus

Harvey Bjornlie
Sheila Bjornlie
Gene Cheltenham
Lola Cumiford
Lynne Haigh
Megan Williams Lee
Lucinda Mittleman
Don Murchie
Peter Rice
Beverly Weil

Topanga State Park Liasons

State Park Ranger, Topanga Sector, Danny Duarte

Volunteer Opportunities

Our docents staff the Visitor Center, lead School Walks for children, lead Sunday Walks for the public, and meet and greet visitors on the hiking trails in the park as Trail Ambassadors. Docents organize and support enrichment activities for our members such as our Field Ecology WeekendDocent Training, Full Moon Hikes and Field Trips. There are other volunteer opportunities too, such as newsletter publishing or managing our website and social media pages. We rely on docent participation to run these successful programs.

Questions? Contact Us