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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 28, 2019 5 months ago

Sarasota Good Works: Art is a passion, even for tour guides

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Leslie Young has volunteered 2,000 hours with Ringling.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

Leslie Young is just as colorful as the art she describes. Her bright periwinkle outfit shifts with her movements as she gestures toward paintings on the walls of the Ringling Museum of Art.

Young is a tour guide at The Ringling and has put in more than 2,000 hours after six years of volunteering. And she wants to do more.

“That’s nothing,” said Young. “There are people here who have put in 17,000 hours or more into volunteering with the Ringling.”

Young says volunteering and giving tours invigorates her. She began as a general volunteer for the museum but jumped at the chance to become a docent.

“It’s challenging, but to have a gift like this collection means there is no second best experience,” said Young. “You get to script your own tour however you want it to go, and no two tours are the same.”

Young said children’s tours are her favorite. “Children don’t care about saying anything. They’re not predisposed,” she said. “The adults hold back.”

The moment of watching people’s eyes widen and finally understanding something she has explained is what Young loves most about every tour.

Hollie Corbitt, the volunteer program coordinator for the Ringling, said Young is the perfect docent. Young is also the chair of the Docent Advisory Council and helped to launch listening devices on tours.

“She’s truly a student of the museum’s history and its collections, and she is incredibly eager to share what she’s learned through educational and entertaining tours to adult groups and school-age children,” Corbitt said in an email. “Her enthusiasm is infectious, and my colleagues and I have been constantly impressed with her level of commitment and positive approach to everything she does.”

Beyond the tours, beyond the museum-goers, beyond the children, Young said she truly enjoys the way museum volunteers and employees treat her like a family.

“The Ringling is a jewel to have,” she said. “There’s a common thread here, and these are people are the nicest you’ll ever have in your life.”

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