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

More than 100 exceptional volunteers share their time and talents at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest each year. Volunteers give their time to welcome visitors, staff the museum shop, work in the hands-on-history center, conduct tours of the house and grounds, help with special events and assist in a myriad of important ways.

Poplar Forest seeks volunteers interested in history, archaeology and historic preservation and those who enjoy working with both adults and children. Volunteers work as tour docents, museum shop assistants and hands-on history docents.

Volunteer benefits

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
  • Admission to Jefferson-related programs and lectures at Poplar Forest
  • 20% discount in the Museum Shop
  • Opportunities for field trips arranged by the Poplar Forest staff

About Volunteering

To become a volunteer at Poplar Forest, you must complete a training program to prepare you for your volunteer position. Volunteers should be willing to work a minimum of six hours (or two shifts) per month during the tour season (mid-March through December 30).


  • Attendance at required training sessions each year
  • Work an average of six hours minimum per month, during the general admission season and/or extended season including scheduled open days, holidays, special events and/or group tours


  • 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)


  • Participate in evaluations of the various volunteer experiences at Poplar Forest to provide an overall assessment for improvements and/or changes
  • Participate in appraisals by the staff of the volunteer’s performance as a museum shop volunteer
  • If a volunteer receives an unsatisfactory appraisal, a meeting will be scheduled with the museum shop manager and volunteer manager to discuss the evaluation and how the volunteer’s performance could be improved. The volunteer, after review and practice, will be reevaluated.


  • Volunteers serve a term of one year in length
  • At the end of each term, the volunteer will be issued an invitation to return on a yearly basis
  • If a volunteer wishes to end his/her term in the middle of the season, the volunteer should contact the museum shop manager and volunteer manager


Museum Shop Associate

SUPERVISOR: Museum Shop Manager and Visitor Services/Volunteer Manager


  • To serve as official host or hostess to all Poplar Forest visitors
  • To staff the Poplar Forest Museum Shop with docents knowledgeable in admissions procedures and general information about the historic site as well as merchandise in the shop
  • To communicate such information to visitors in a professional and meaningful manner


  • To represent the policies and goals of The Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
  • To complete the training program, and to attend required training sessions on a yearly basis (including observation of at least two house tours)
  • To be available on a regularly scheduled and special needs basis
  • To meet and greet all visitors to Poplar Forest and to assist visitors with admission options, directions for meeting with the tour docent, and location of self-guided exhibit areas
  • To serve as a general interpreter for the site, and to be knowledgeable in how the merchandise relates to the interpretation of Poplar Forest
  • To assist the retail staff in the maintenance of the shop in a competent and professional manner
  • To attend enrichment and professional growth opportunities as provided by Poplar Forest such as update training sessions, lectures, field trips, etc.

Apply Now

  • Please select the volunteer position you are applying for.
  • Are you fluent in a foreign language? If so, what language?
  • Please list previous volunteer or work experience, education, and any hobbies or other interests.

“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