About Us


We are looking for passionate, committed people to join our dedicated corps of volunteers. Donate your time to Poplar Forest and become part of an exciting team of archaeologists, craftsmen, preservationists and museum professionals at Jefferson’s retreat, a National Historic Landmark.

Fun and rewarding opportunities available

Be an important part of the restoration, preservation, and interpretation of Jefferson’s cherished retreat home! Volunteers play an integral role in the day to day operations of Poplar Forest in a myriad of ways. Volunteers give their time to welcome visitors, staff the museum shop, work in the hands-on-history center, conduct tours of Jefferson’s retreat villa, give Enslaved Community Talks, and help with a wide array of special events.

Poplar Forest seeks volunteers with a passion for history and telling the full story of a former plantation and those who enjoy working with both adults and children. Volunteers can work as tour docents, museum shop assistants and hands-on history docents.


Tour Docent

  • Leads guided tours of Jefferson’s retreat home
  • Opportunities to lead elective/specialty tours such as Candlelight Tours, Enslaved Community Talks, Women of Poplar Forest tours, etc.
  • Gives 2 tours per shift

Museum Shop Docent

  • Welcomes visitors to Poplar Forest
  • Directs visitors to exhibitions and the docent-guided tour start point
  • Answers questions related to property and Museum Shop merchandise

Hands-On-history docent

  • Assists with programming for school field trips (typically Monday-Friday)
  • Assists with occasional events that feature children’s activities throughout the year
  • School activities include brickmaking, quill pen writing, archaeology demos, tours

About Volunteering

To become a volunteer at Poplar Forest, you must fill out the application below, consent to a background check, and complete a training program to prepare you for your volunteer position. Volunteers should be willing to work a minimum of two shifts per month during the regular tour season (mid-March through December 30).


  • Attendance at required training sessions each year
  • For Museum Shop and Tour Docents: Work at least two shifts minimum per month, during the general admission season and/or extended season including scheduled open days, holidays, special events and/or group tours
  • For Hands on History Assistants: Work at least two school groups a month (as applicable. Volunteer time commitments in Hands on History are dependent upon how many school groups we have in a given year).


  • A willingness to make guest services to the visiting public the first priority while functioning as a volunteer
  • Possession of an interest in history and historic preservation
  • Possession of good communication skills including patience and tact
  • Ability to feel at ease with people from a variety of backgrounds
  • Attitude of flexibility and co-operation in working with the public and one’s peers
  • Physical stamina to work on one’s feet for a three-hour shift (tour docents, in a non-conventional air conditioned situation)


Learning new information and interacting with visitors are only a few of the benefits of volunteering at Poplar Forest. Our volunteers find that being part of a team of committed individuals passionate about history, education and preservation is personally rewarding and engaging.


Volunteers also receive:

  • Poplar Forest house & grounds admission for docent and immediate family
  • “Notes on the State of Poplar Forest,” fall and spring newsletter
  • Poplar Forest library privileges
  • Regular docent get-togethers and trainings throughout the year
  • 20% discount in the Museum Shop
  • Free admission to events when you volunteer to work at event, 20% off event admission if you do not work the event.
  • Opportunities for field trips arranged by the Poplar Forest staff

Apply Now

“I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man.” Thomas Jefferson, 1822