UW Botanic Gardens Volunteer Positions

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.


Printer friendly list of volunteer positions as of October 21, 2021 12:26 PM.

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



Adult Garden Guide

Educate the public about the Arboretum and its collections through 60-90 minute tours. Tour themes include collection plants, seasonal interest, history, and ecology. A background in botany, ecology or horticulture is required.

Volunteers lead guided tours during the week or on weekends, rain or shine. Volunteers are also required to attend training and enrichment programs. Commitment of at least one tour every 4-6 weeks.

This position is not currently available



Class Monitor

Public education classes happen year-round and serve both horticultural enthusiasts and professionals. Class monitors assist instructors - and they get to take the course they monitor for free! Typical duties include opening meeting rooms, helping instructors with room set-ups, handling registration check-ins, assisting with projectors and lights, and closing up the room at the end of class. Scheduling is on a per-class basis.

This position is not currently available



Communications Assistant

Help spread the word about all the events and activities at the UW Botanic Gardens. Build public engagement with social media; help compile E-Flora, our monthly e-newsletter; take photos; interview students and volunteers. Strong writing skills are a must. Creativity and a sense of humor appreciated. Interest in plants and horticulture would be helpful, but not required. The position will usually work at the Center for Urban Horticulture, and may also regularly work at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Volunteers work a regular schedule of 3-4 hours weekly or every other week.

This position is not currently available



Events Publicity Assistant

Help us get the word out about the many fun events and classes offered by UW Botanic Gardens. The primary responsibility is to submit event details to media and community web calendars.

Bi-weekly or weekly commitment, 2-3 hours per day.

This position is not currently available



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 five. 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.

Description: This volunteer position will assist the lead teachers with all aspects of implementing a weekly, part-day nature preschool program. This position will assists 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:

Weekdays only. Orientation provided.

Commitment is a minimum of two days per week for the duration of at least one quarter (Fall, Winter or Spring) 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 2021-2022 school year.

This position is not currently available



GIS Mapping Assistant

We have migrated our print maps that document the location of trees and shrubs at the Washington Park Arboretum into ArcGIS, a georeferenced database. Needed are inventory assistants who will verify and update collections data by "ground-truthing" in the field at the Arboretum. The job requires both computer work and field work. Attention to detail is a must, plant identification and/or ArcGIS skill appreciated, but not required. Training is provided.

4 hours per week, with a 3 month minimum commitment. Office sessions are held on Monday and Tuesday from 12-5 p.m. and field sessions are held on Wednesday and Thursday from 12-5 p.m. and scheduling is flexible within these times. Alternative times may be arranged after sufficient experienced is gained.

Contact: Keith Ferguson, Registrar, (206) 616-4162, fergus42@uw.edu



HORTICULTURE: Plant Health Care Assistant

Volunteers assist the Plant Health Care Specialist with seasonal projects in the Washington Park Arboretum. Current projects include: Performing feild checks and documenting the condition of Arboretum collection plants. Scouting and diagnosis of insect and disease pests of collection plants. Documenting an action plan for the most impactful individual insect and disease pests of Arboretum collections. Evaluating and updating the New Plant Care list of plants, identifying the plants in most need of supplemental irrigation. Skills preferred: Experience with ArcMap, Word and Excel programs. Plant identification skills, and ability to traverse on and off trails in the Washington Park Arboretum.

2 hours weekly, Thursdays 10am-Noon

This position is not currently available



HORTICULTURE: WPA Dedicated Independent Gardener

The WPA D.I.G. volunteers are experienced, long-term volunteers who work semi-independently in a focused area of the arboretum. D.I.G. volunteers choose their own worksite, work with a staff horticulturist to plan and prioritize the needs of the garden and are able to accomplish the work on their own. Tools and materials are provided. An AA degree in horticulture or related field, or work equivalent is required. D.I.G. volunteers must have knowledge of soils, pruning and plant identification.

WEEKDAYS ONLY! Although flexible, D.I.G. volunteers are expected to be able to commit a minimum of 3 hours per week for at least 1 years' time.

Contact: Roy Farrow, Gardener II, (206) 616-4050, farrow@uw.edu



Image Collection Assistant

At the UW Botanic Gardens we use digital images in publications, publicity and social media, and even in the interactive map of the Washington Park Arboretum. This position will assist staff in editing, renaming and cataloging these images.

Commitment: variable.

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 Darshi Banan (dbanan@uw.edu)

This position is not currently available



Library Assistant

Elisabeth C. Miller Library serves the faculty, students, and staff of University of Washington Botanic Gardens, professional horticulturists, and the general gardening public. With 250 subscriptions to journals and newsletters plus a collection of 15,000 books on horticulture, ecology, taxonomy, botany, garden design, etc., the Miller Library is the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and answers questions from all over the world.

Library Volunteer duties include the following: front desk duties (greeting the public, referring library users to resources, answering phones, circulation), periodicals check-in and maintenance (tracking subscriptions, binding), alphanumeric shelving, processing of donations, photocopying and scanning, link checking and HTML tagging in the Gardening Answers Knowledgebase; data entry, writing and special projects as needed.

The requirements are:
•Experience working with the public in a library or comparable setting
•An understanding of library standards including MARC and LC subject headings, and LC classification system
•Ability to resolve complex problems with bibliographic records in our online Koha catalog
•Highly refined attention to detail
•Interest in and familiarity with plants and gardening is desirable

Visit the Miller Library website to learn more.

We prefer that volunteers work a regular schedule of three to four hours per week including summers and school breaks. Seasonal internships are occasionally available. After three months, there will be a mutual review process to see how things are going with the tasks you are doing.

Contact: Jessica Moskowitz, Serials Librarian, 206-543-0415, moskoj@uw.edu



Plant Records Assistant

The Plant Records Office houses a records center for all plants in the Arboretum which serves as the primary basis for collection interpretation, management and planning. Assist with keeping this vital information current through field inventory and data entry. Become better acquainted with the Arboretum, its diverse collection and the record system. This is an exceptional opportunity to 'dig deeper' and become more familiar with the largest woody plant collection in the region. Duties include: inventory of specified collection areas or taxonomic groups, verification of field status against record data, plant label placement, updating computer records and maps.

Activities are year-round. Commitment of 4 hours per week, with a 3 month minimum commitment. Office sessions are held on Monday and Tuesday from 12-5 p.m. and field sessions are held on Wednesday and Thursday from 12-5 p.m. and scheduling is flexible within these times. You should be attentive to detail and eager to learn. Knowledge of horticultural plant materials is highly desirable but not required.

Contact: Keith Ferguson, Registrar, (206) 616-4162, fergus42@uw.edu



Rare Care General Assistant

Interested in contributingto 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

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 (2021 will be 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 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



Rhododendron collections volunteer

The goal of this project is to verify the identification of species Rhododendron in the University of Washington collection. Plants will be scouted for flowering time, their location verified, and their condition noted. The plants will be photographed, and a sample will be taken for the Hyde Herbarium. Commitment and scheduling are flexible, but most field activity will be during Rhododendron blooming season (March – May) with data entry and analysis opportunities after that. Skills preferred (training is available): Experience with Word and Excel programs for data entry. Experience with ArcMap for locating plants to be sampled. Plant identification skills, especially Rhododendron. Ability to traverse on and off trails in the Washington Park Arboretum.

Hours of commitment are variable. More field time will be required during Rhododendron bloom (April and May) and more office time after this for sample identification and documentation.

This position is not currently available