Junior Docent Program

The Junior Docent Program is an award-winning, after-school leadership and youth development program that serves students (Grades 9–12) from public high schools throughout Yonkers.

The Junior Docent Program is generously sponsored, in part, by the City of Yonkers, Department of Planning and Development, through a Community Development Block Grant; St. Faith’s House Foundation; the Lorraine O’Brien Foundation, Inc.; Phillips Museums and Communities grant, administered through the American Associations of Art Museum Directors; and the Westchester County Youth Bureau.

Support the Program

To be admitted to the Junior Docent Program, you must be a freshman or sophomore at a Yonkers public high school.

The application portal is now closed for the current academic year and will reopen in Fall 2022.


Photo: Jason Green

What is the Junior Docent Program?

The Junior Docent Program is an award-winning, after-school youth development program that serves students (Grades 9–12) from public high schools throughout Yonkers. Extending over four years, the Program expands students’ knowledge of art, science, and history while strengthening skills in communication, critical thinking, and leadership. The Program trains them to become leaders, thinkers, professionals, and contributing members of their communities. Peer mentorship and a sense of camaraderie among students are hallmarks of the experience.

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One of the core components of Junior Docent training is an extensive College Readiness Series, guiding the teens through SAT/ACTs, college visits, the application process, interview and essay preparation, financial literacy for the entire family, and more. Since its inception in 1995, the Program has graduated nearly 500 young adults; 100% of Junior Docents who complete the Program have been accepted to college. Members of the Junior Docent Class of 2021 have gone on to colleges such as Brown University, the City College of New York, Connecticut College, Lehman College, Mercy College, New York Institute of Technology, New York University, Northeastern University, St. John’s University, Stony Brook University, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Purchase, University of Southern California, and Westchester Community College.

The Junior Docent Program is a nationally-recognized model for teen programming. In 2008, the Program was recognized by The White House with the Coming Up Taller Award, which supports outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people. The Program is central to the mission of the Hudson River Museum. We are inspired by these young adults each and every day; they add diverse perspectives, creativity, and spirit to the Museum, and serve the community in so many ways.

What Do Junior Docents Do?

Junior Docents attend weekly training sessions led by the Manager of Youth and Family Programs. In these sessions, they learn about the Museum’s permanent collection, and through our environmental teaching gallery and Planetarium, they learn science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEM and STEAM) concepts. Participants work with curators, educators, artists, scientists, and leading professionals in many fields, take trips to other museums in connection with current HRM exhibits, themes, and collections, and use Museum resources to create tours and facilitate art- and science-based projects and demonstrations for peers and families, both onsite and virtually.

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Junior Docents are required to work one weekend per month. They lead gallery tours; science, technology, engineering and math demonstrations; Family Studio workshops; storytimes; and other hands-on activities that enhance the visitor experience. They also create tours and programs for themselves and their peers and mentor younger docents. After completing one full year of the Program, following staff evaluation, participants can qualify to be paid for their work. Finally, Junior Docents who are seniors in high school may be elected to an Advisory Board that meets monthly to shape the future of the Program.


Recruitment for 2021–2022 school year is being held in September and October. Teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, parents, please send an email to Pedro Betanzos at pbetanzos@hrm.org if you would like to be added to our mailing list. To schedule a presentation for your school or community organization, please complete a presentation request form.


Meet the Class of 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and some of our alumni from previous years.

Who is eligible to apply to the Junior Docent Program?

Freshmen and sophomores attending a Yonkers Public High School are eligible to apply. Academic merit is not a consideration for eligibility.

I do not attend a Yonkers Public High School. Are there other opportunities for high school students?

The Hudson River Museum offers a wide variety of public programs for all ages, including teens. Learn more about our events and programs on our calendar.

Do I have to be interested in art to be a Junior Docent?

The Hudson River Museum is a multidisciplinary institution, and because of this, we are able to explore an array of topics from astronomy to history, environmental science, and the visual and performing arts.

What are Junior Docent meetings like?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are being offered in a hybrid manner, both online and in-person, with the majority currently being held via Zoom, every Friday from 3pm until 5pm. In a typical in-person meeting, for example, Junior Docents arrive at the HRM after school, have a snack and respond to prompts posted on the board. After a group discussion on a specific topic, Junior Docents engage in ice breakers or participate in an activity. Meetings often consist of training by professionals on topics ranging from environmental science, to Pop Art, to Victorian history to healthy relationships, and workshops led by artists and performers. Training is engaging, hands-on, thought-provoking, and informative.

What other opportunities are available to Junior Docents?

After a Junior Docent has completed their first year in the Program, they are eligible to present a Payroll Evaluation Tour. If they pass, they are eligible to be paid for their time working at the Museum on the weekends. Other opportunities include joining the Junior Docent Advisory Board, a leadership team that works on program activities, plans events, and assists with recruitment; the Summer Camp Manager—a paid supervisory position (graduating seniors only); Summer Camp instructors; and Discussion Facilitators, who moderate conversations about a topics related to the Museum.

What opportunities are available for parents?

The Junior Docent Program hosts a number of Parent Nights during the school year to help families learn about the many facets of the college application and financial aid process. Sessions focus on topics such as financial education, budgeting, paying for college, and college planning by families. All parents are invited to join in on college and university visits.

Congressman Bowman Visits with HRM’s 2021 Junior Docents
On June 11, Yonkers and Westchester Congressman Jamaal Bowman gave an inspiring speech to the Junior Docents at their end-of-year celebration. Read the full Yonkers Times article here.

Program Achievements

The Junior Docent Program has received numerous awards, and is honored to be nationally and locally recognized for its service to Yonkers youth.

2017–Induction into the Roosevelt High School’s Wall of Fame

2015–Yonkers’ Mayor Mike Spano Proclamation of “Junior Docent Day” on June 25, celebrating the 20th year of the Program

2008–The White House Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Individual Junior Docents have also been recognized with numerous honors, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Youth Award from the African American Men of Westchester and Westchester County’s Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award, which heralds young men and women who actively demonstrate leadership in community service, and the US Presidential Scholars Program.

Application Process

To be admitted to the Junior Docent Program, you must be a freshman or sophomore at a Yonkers public high school. The application portal for the 2021–2022 school year is now closed. If you completed your application before the deadline of Friday, October 22, you will receive an email from the Program Manager to schedule an interview. Junior Docent meetings for new recruits will begin in November 2021.

Contact Us

Pedro Betanzos
Manager, Youth and Family Programs
(914) 963-4550 x219

Stay Connected

Facebook: @HRMJuniorDocents
Twitter: @HRMJuniorDocent
Instagram: @HRMJuniorDocents