Filoli makes changes in visitor access, staffing and volunteer training as it looks to the future

by Contributed Content on September 27, 2017

This year, under new leadership, Filoli has expanded hours of operation and the community response was very positive.

“We have experienced nearly a 30% increase in attendance just by opening our doors more widely,” said Kara Newport, Chief Executive Officer at Filoli, who was brought on board just a year ago.

Filoli is now exploring new ideas to realign programs and increase visitor access to the estate, including plans to be open year-round. Revenue generated from increased attendance will be re-invested into staff and resources needed to support Filoli’s mission of preservation and education.

Filoli recently opened a self-guided trail so that visitors can experience the natural landscape, including the fields and Nature Center, at their own pace. Access to the trail is included in the General Admission and includes interpretive information highlighting animals, farming, native plants, history, geology, and seasonal attractions.

Also through the fall, Filoli will have interactive opportunities such as a labyrinth, pumpkin patch, scarecrows and more. These elements will be available every weekend through November 5.

Filoli is also exploring opportunities to grow school and youth programs. Historically Filoli has served school programs with House Tours and Nature Hikes. Through an enhanced school program, Filoli plans to deliver a consistent curriculum among student groups and provide teachers with the tools to continue lessons in their classrooms.

Additionally, to better serve the approximately 37% of economically disadvantaged school-aged youth in San Mateo County, the program will fund scholarships for schools and be promoted to new and diverse audiences.  Fundraising to support this program realignment is underway.

Filoli has expanded staffing — especially in the area of interpretation — to connect the Filoli stories with new audiences. The Friends of Filoli volunteer program has also long-provided support for the programs and events at Filoli. This will continue, with emphasis on creating a sustainable model that attracts diverse volunteers from the community.

“We want to establish the highest standard for our volunteers to ensure best practices in both volunteer program management and also in service delivery,” says Donna Mollenhauer, Chair of the Friends of Filoli and Vice President of the Board of Directors.

One of the hallmarks of the changes in the volunteer program will be modular online training to make training more flexible and accessible especially for key areas like docent training. A Volunteer Recruitment event for new volunteers will be held on Saturday, October 21 and is free of charge.

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