The wonderful docents at Calaveras Big Trees State Park are priceless.  Without the gift of their valuable time, the Park would look quite different.  Whether they volunteer in the Visitor Center, on the trails, leading tours, teaching kids or working in the museum, their contribution are hard to measure.

Alex Conrad, one of our amazing SCA Interns, will be highlighting some of our new and experienced docents throughout the summer.  Check back each week to meet them.  

If you want to become a docent, contact Mara Naber at

Meet Dereen DeSchryver

A new docent here at the park, Dereen DeSchryver loves the outdoors. When she was still teaching elementary school, Dereen’s favorite field trip was to Calaveras Big Trees. Not only were the programs at the park wonderful, but the thematic teaching of Wendy, the park’s retired Interpreter One, inspired Dereen to further pursue outdoor education.

Thus after retiring, Dereen decided to become a docent so as to educate others on the beauty of the forest and its importance. Some of her favorite spots at the park include the South Grove, Beaver Creek and any place serene.

As a guide, Dereen’s favorite place to volunteer is the North Grove. After she polishes her guided hike there, Dereen is planning to design and lead South Grove hikes as well. Welcome to Big Trees, Dereen!

Meet Christine Mongsene

A new docent here at Big Trees, Christine Mongsene loves to staff the visitor’s center. At the cash register, Christine enjoys meeting new people and helping them find their campsite, trails or sanity.

New to Calaveras County, Christine is a retired administrative assistant. After years of working long, stressful hours, Christine is excited to be here at the park, among the glorious trees and scenery.

Although she volunteers primarily in the visitor’s center, Christine enjoys peace of the forest. To her, reaching out and touching the wood of the Discovery Tree is breathtaking. Luckily for her, the visitor’s center has a great view of the stump!

Christine looks forward to more hours at the visitor’s center and may try her hand at trail patrol in the near future. Welcome to Big Trees, Christine!

Meet Betty Chase

Betty Chase is a new docent here at Big Trees and a newly elected board member of the Calaveras Big Trees Association. Drawing on her previous experience as a corporate communicator for assorted Silicon Valley companies, Betty now runs CBTA’s social media and other communications.

When she is not busy, Betty enjoys walking her dogs on the fire roads in the park. Ambling along with her dogs, she can slow down, observe and drink in the beauty here at Big Trees.

As a docent, Betty enjoys participating in Creek Critters and looks forward to working with school children in the fall. As part of the California Naturalist Program, Betty’s capstone project highlighted outdoor activities for kids that encourage observation and critical thinking in the great outdoors.

Welcome to Big Trees Betty!

Meet Mary Millar

Mary Millar is a new docent here at Big Trees. Mary’s late husband, Brad Millar was a docent at the park for many years. In honor of his memory, Mary volunteers in the visitor’s center, as Brad’s presence can still be felt around the park.

At the visitor’s center, Mary enjoys meeting new people, answering questions and getting to know the sightseers and campers at the park.

Originally a commercial writer, Mary now volunteers here and at the animal shelter. Her favorite part of Big Trees is the North Grove. In Mary’s words the grove is “the whole park in miniature.” Mary also enjoys the Stanislaus River and Beaver Creek. Welcome to Big Trees, Mary!

Meet Patty Haskell

A new docent here at Big Trees, Patty Haskell has a thorough love of the outdoors and our giant trees.

Before becoming a docent, Patty worked for 25 years as a Special Education teacher, instructing children of all ages. After this, Patty became a Special Education Administrator. Although Patty had paid the park many visits, her schedule did not allow her the time to become a docent. Now with her recent retirement, Patty is excited to meet new people, shadow programs and start leading her own hikes.

About 15 years ago, Patty worked at Big Trees as a part time horse wrangler. She and a small team led horseback tours through the North Grove, traversing both short and long trails.

Today, Patty hopes to work with children in Junior Ranger and Cubs programs. Welcome to Big Trees, Patty!

Meet Kathie Campbell

Kathie is a new docent here at Big Trees. With a love of the woods and a hankering to get to know people, Kathie decided to become a docent.  Although her background is in hospital finance, Kathie now works as a real estate agent.

When she is not at her job, Kathie enjoys hiking the South Grove. In fact, Kathie and another docent at the park have designed an interpretive hike of the South Grove, which will roll out on June 22nd.  This guided hike, a capstone project for the California Naturalist Program, explores the flora of the grove while explaining the rich history of the area.

As well as the South Grove, Kathie is fond of Lava Bluffs and its gorgeous display of wildflowers. Next on her list of trails to see, Kathie hopes to hike the River Trail. Welcome to Big Trees, Kathie!

If you would like become a docent, contact Mara Naber at  209-795-7980