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Volunteer Application

The Gardens depend on people like you! More than 500 volunteers give 10,000 hours each year to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. Learn new skills while you contribute to plant conservation and education. We have opportunities for everyone.

Please note the phone number when deciding where you are most interested in volunteering. Your call is welcome!

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Click boxes to select positions (up to 4), then click purple APPLY button

Arboretum Drive Volunteers

HORTICULTURE: Arboretum Drive Volunteer

The Washington Park Arboretum is developing a new volunteer position hosting monthly projects. Work will be based primarily along Arboretum Drive East, the major corridor through the park, containing nationally recognized plant collections including Camellia, Magnolia, and Sorbus. You will be working in small groups under the supervision of UWBG Horticulturists who welcome anyone to join with no experience necessary. Our work will focus on restoring, renovating, and maintaining the garden beds and plant collections through sustainable ecological practices. Staff will provide instruction, tools, and plenty of opportunities to learn and be inspired.

Things you should be prepared for:

  • The weather and terrain: All work is performed outside and often on uneven slopes so please dress appropriately for both the weather and terrain
  • Clothing: Closed-toed shoes and long pants are mandatory, work gloves will be provided
  • Nourishment: Snacks and will be provided but you are encouraged to bring your own food and water
  • Use of manual tools and equipment: Rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, weeding forks, hoes, and loppers.
  • Collection garden restoration: Brush clearing, weed management, and mulching

Next work party June 4th! 9am to 12pm

June 18th and July 2nd to follow!

Will continue on Tuesdays twice a month. Once you fill out this application, and select this role, you will receive an email the Thursday before the session with location details within the Arboretum.

Contact: Megan Westcott, Horticulturist, 206 616-4050, megangw@uw.edu

Climate Ready Landscape Plants Volunteer

Assist in plot maintenance and preparation for the Climate Ready Landscape Plants project at UWBG. This project tests horticultural plants under different drought deficit treatments. Tasks include weeding, planting, mulching the two plots in order to contribute to plant ecophysiology and horticulture research. Other contact: Soo-Hyung Kim, Professor, 206-616-4971, soohkim@uw.edu

Contact: Amelia Keyser-Gibson, Masters student, , akeyserg@uw.edu

Fiddleheads Forest School Volunteer

Tucked within the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the Youth and Family Education Programs is the Fiddleheads Forest School , an entirely outdoor preschool for students ages three to six. At the Fiddleheads Forest School, we aim to foster a sense of wonder, to guide rather than compel, and to provide room for possibility rather than attempt to constrain children’s interests to fit within a certain curriculum. Unlike traditional programs, at the Forest School our classroom grows and changes along with its students. This dynamic environment offers an unparalleled setting for the development of self-regulation and fundamental appreciation for the natural world. Our unique, child-driven curriculum addresses the individual developmental needs of every student. Each day is approached with joy and wonder at the wide world around us.

Age Requirement: At least 14 years old.

Description: This volunteer position will assist the lead teachers with all aspects of implementing a weekly, part-day nature preschool program. This position will assist in classes of up to 14 students while spending the vast majority of that time outdoors, exploring the natural world through age-appropriate lessons and activities.

Essential Tasks:

  • Assisting lead teachers in the implementation of age-appropriate curriculum, and activities to 3-6 year olds enrolled in a nature preschool. Modeling a healthy relationship with and curiosity for the natural world, and acting in a professional and compassionate manner at all times.
  • Ensuring the health, safety and well-being of students through site surveys and group overview. Maintaining clear communications with staff, fellow volunteers and interns, students, and their families to achieve common goals and avoid potential conflicts.
  • Preparing, cleaning up and maintaining teaching supplies and supporting materials in a well-organized and efficient manner.
Weekdays only. Orientation provided.

Volunteer Qualities:

  • Enjoys being outdoors in all weathers
  • Demonstrated interest in areas such as environmental education, early childhood education, special education, or social/emotional impacts of nature on children’s development

    Commitment is a minimum of one day per week for the duration of at least one quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer) from 8:45am-1:15pm. We are a licensed preschool program, so all volunteers must pass a background check and provide proof of a negative TB test within the last 12 months. This position is COVID-dependent during the 2023-2024 school year.

    Contact: Maddie Cole, Head of Fiddleheads, 206-616-5261, mcole06@uw.edu

  •   HORTICULTURE: CUH Gardener Assistant

    The Center for Urban Horticulture Gardens, including the Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA), are highly visible to the public and require intensive gardening, restoration practices and ongoing maintenance. Plants in these gardens and range from Northwest native species to annuals and herbaceous perennials from overseas that are being tested here. Duties include control of invasive, noxious and general weeds, mulching, planting and plant removal, grooming of paths, light pruning to maintain plant health, perennial plant care including deadheading and division, watering and fertilizing as well as basic plant labeling and inventory. **We also have space in our UBNA Restoration Volunteer opportunity. See app below or contact Sloane Palmer (sapalmer@uw.edu) for more info.

    Tuesday mornings, 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. Requested commitment of two months, including orientation of the CUH grounds and training in the gardens. General: You should have some knowledge of gardening/grounds duties

    This position is not currently available

      Lab/Field Assistant in Plant Ecophysiology Lab

    Volunteers work with faculty, graduate students, and researchers in laboratory, greenhouse, and field settings to contribute to plant ecophysiology and ecological horticulture research.

    Other Contacts: Arthur Hsu (hwhsu@uw.edu), and Amelia Keyser-Gibson (akeyserg@uw.edu)

    This position is not currently available

      Rare Care General Assistant

    Interested in contributing to rare plant conservation by assisting Rare Care with office projects? Volunteers assist Rare Care staff with a variety of tasks that support the rare plant monitoring and seed collecting programs. Projects may include rare plant literature research, mailings or digital image labeling and filing. Strong computer and organizational skills are a plus.

    This position is not currently available

      Rare Care Rare Plant Monitor

    We are currently accepting applications for the 2024 training. The Rare Plant Monitoring program is a citizen science program. Rare Plant Monitors visit populations of rare, native plants throughout Washington State. Volunteers need some basic plant identification skills and knowledge of WA native flora, good observational skills, a sense of adventure, their own transportation, and a few days to spare during the field season (March – October). Some experience in scientific data collection is helpful. PRIOR to applying, please read the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations of the volunteer position on the Rare Care webpage.

    Minimum commitment includes attendance at an all-day training session (virtual) and completion of at least two monitoring assignments over the first two years as a trained monitor.

    This position is not currently available

      Rare Care Seed Collector

    Assist Rare Care with collecting seeds for the Miller Seed Vault and the Seeds of Success Project. Seed collecting provides an opportunity to deepen your understanding of plant ecology and observe how variations in weather can drastically affect seed maturation rates and timing.

    Rare plant seed collectors contribute to the Miller Seed Vault seed bank by collecting seeds from wild populations of rare native plants around the state of Washington. Rare plant seed collectors need the same skills as Rare Plant Monitors and are required to attend a special training in native plant seed collection methods and protocols. For more information visit the Rare Care website.

    Volunteers may also participate in the Seeds of Success Project by assistint with seed collections from wild populations of more common native plants. These seed collections are either contributed to the Kew Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, England, or to the national seed bank for seeds available for use in stabilizing, rehabilitating and restoring public lands. Volunteers participate by locating suitable populations for collection, or by assisting Rare Care staff with seed collections in the field. Collections require walking on uneven terrain and hiking 1 to 3 miles. No prior experience is needed to particate as a Seeds of Success volunteer.

    This position is not currently available

      Rare Care Seed Vault Assistant

    Help Rare Care preserve seeds of rare plants for perpetuity. Seed vault assistants help with cleaning, counting and packaging seeds of rare native plants for long-term storage in the Miller Seed Vault. Volunteers work in the Miller Seed Vault processing room, a climate-controlled environment with an ambient temperature of 57 degrees F and a relative humidity of 22%. Working with seeds requires a strong attention to detail. You'll handle very small seeds with hand tools. For more information about the seed vault, visit the Miller Seed Vault web pages.

    This position is not currently available

    UBNA Restoration Volunteer

    Want to be part of a group focused on ecological restoration in the Union Bay Natural Area? Join us! Projects will largely consist of invasive species removal and participants should be prepared for manual labor in varying weather conditions.

    To start, this group will be meeting twice monthly; hopefully ramping up to weekly work!

    Contact: Sloane Palmer, CUH/UBNA Horticulturist, (703)867-1440, sapalmer@uw.edu

    Select up to four positions you are interested in, then

    Worker's Compensation & Injury Claims (for volunteers too)

    Volunteer for the Arboretum Foundation, the Arboretum's support organization, including helping in the gift shop, putting on events and selling plants.

    Restricted: Administer Volunteer Positions