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 November 21, 2019 08:30 AM.

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.

Contact: Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor, (206) 685-8033, jsfarmer@u.washington.edu

Farm Volunteer

Do you want to learn about and help grow fresh, locally grown food? Would you like to learn the intricate techniques of sustainable urban agriculture? The UW Farm provides an excellent opportunity to explore this in a peer-to-peer learning environment. Get on the sustainable agriculture bandwagon, and let's give ourselves a brighter, healthier, yummier future!

Work varies from season to season from preparing the soil and readying tools and supplies to planting, tending, and harvesting to preparing the produce for sale. Get your hands dirty and your mind growing while helping the UW Farm prepare for the upcoming growing season and learn about the many aspects of urban sustainable agriculture as well as gain some key skills and knowledge about local plants and growing cycles.

There are 3 primary work sites: Center for Urban Horticulture, Mercer Court, and McMahon Hall.

For UW students volunteering through the Carlson Center, Weekly commitment can range from 3-10 hours per week for at least 10 weeks.

Others are welcome to join us for any of our volunteer workdays, but still need to complete an application!

Contact: Perry Acworth, Farm Manager, 206-550-4169, persis@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 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 one day per week for the duration of at least one quarter (Fall, Winter or Spring) from 8:45am-1:15pm.

Contact: Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator , 206-221-6427, ffschool@uw.edu

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

GVC Front Desk Volunteer

This person sits at the Front Desk in the Graham Visitor Center and greets visitors as well as answering inquiries. Must have good verbal skills and enjoy working with the public in a front desk position. Must be comfortable using internet and printed resources to help answer questions. This volunteer position is a representative of the UW Botanic Gardens.

A volunteer agrees to work a minimum of two 3-hour shifts per month between 9 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact: Bryan Pilkington, GVC Front Desk Coordinator, (206) 616-3994, bryanp4@uw.edu

Herbarium Assistant

Help process plant specimens by participating in data entry, filing plant specimens, updating collecting lists, and other activities that provide hands-on herbarium experience. Duties include filing herbarium specimens, using Word and Excel programs for data entry, and working with collecting lists and maps.

Contact: Eve Rickenbaker, Herbarium Manager, (206) 685-2589, hydeherb@u.washington.edu

Herbarium Specimen Collector

Get outside and hone your plant ID skills! Use maps and lists to locate and collect specimens in the Arboretum which are eventually deposited in the Hyde Herbarium.

Contact: Eve Rickenbaker, Herbarium Manager, (206) 685-2589, hydeherb@u.washington.edu

HORTICULTURE: CUH Gardener Assistant

The Center for Urban Horticulture Gardens are highly visible to the public and require intensive gardening practices and ongoing maintenance. Plants in these gardens range from Northwest native species to annuals and herbaceous perennials from overseas that are being tested here. Duties include weeding, 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.

Tuesday mornings, 10-noon Minimum commitment of two months, including orientation of the CUH grounds and training in the gardens. You should have some knowledge of gardening duties and be willing to work outdoors in all sorts of weather.

Contact: Annie Bilotta, Gardener II, (206) 897-1642, anniebp@uw.edu

HORTICULTURE: P.C.G. Gardener Assistant

Join a group that supports Washington Park Arboretum's eco-geographic botanic exhibits. Known as the Pacific Connections Garden, this display features 5 floras from around the Pacific Rim. Work on a variety of plant care and grounds maintenance activities within the Pacific Connections entry Gardens and the Cascadia focal Forest. Learn about the maintenance and development of plant collections. Duties include: weeding, mulching, planting, and other horticulture activities. Hand-tools and work gloves provided. Work boots, rain-gear and long pants recommended. Use of power equipment and utility vehicles is prohibited. Work takes place on Mondays from 9am-12pm, rain or shine.

This is a drop in group, no commitment necessary. The group works Mondays from 9am-12pm. Location details are sent in a weekly email.

Contact: Joanna Long, PGC Horticulturist, (206)616-4050, jolong@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

Contact: Ryan Garrison, Plant Health Specialist, (206) 616-4050, rgarris@uw.edu

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

Junior Naturalist

Camp Overview:
Our day-camp curricula are designed to promote environmental conservation through education and recreation. To achieve this we focus on hands-on exploration, play and the concept of "learning by doing". Depending on the weekly theme, campers may explore ethnobotany, growing food, art, survival skills, and a variety of sciences from looking at insects to studying phenology. We want to develop a nature connection in our campers through fun, educational experiences in and about nature.

General Duties: This position is ideal for junior and senior high school students recent high school graduates interested in working with children outside in nature. No experience is necessary, just enthusiasm for kids, playing outside and gaining leadership skills. Junior Summer Camp Naturalists will assist Summer Camp Naturalists to plan and provide an exceptional day camp experience. Each Junior Summer Camp Naturalist will be paired with a Summer Camp Naturalist and together they will be responsible for a group of up to 12 campers. Junior Naturalists will collaborate with their Naturalist to determine their role and responsibilities within the group. Junior Naturalists will have the opportunity to lead games and activities with the guidance of their Naturalist. This position is designed to provide experience and skills in teaching and working with children, expand environmental knowledge and guide teens in developing leadership skills. Junior naturalists must be 14-18 years old during the entirety of their time volunteering with us.

Job Commitment:
2 days of camp training and 2 to 8 weeks of camp (must commit to at least 2 weeks of camp + training)

Dates and Times:
Training TBD. Camp sessions (confirmed): June 24-28, July 1-3, July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-August 2, August 5-9, August 12-16, August 19-23, August 26-30. M-F, 8:30 am-3:00pm each day.

Contact: Kim Daniel, Youth and Family Program Supervisor, 206-616-3381, kwdaniel@uw.edu

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.

This position is not currently available

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

Volunteer rare plant monitors visit populations of rare native plants throughout Washington State. Volunteers need some botanical training, good observation skills, a sense of adventure, their own transportation, and a few days to spare during the field season (Mar-Oct). For more information, including a volunteer position description and dates for trainings and application deadlines, visit the Rare Care website.

Minimum commitment includes attendance at an all-day training session and Completion of at least two monitoring assignments over two years. Each assignment may require two site visits.

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

Summer Camp Field Assistant

Do you enjoy working with youth? Do you like spending time outside? Do you enjoy supporting young minds as they connect to nature and science?

Then come volunteer your time with UW Botanic Garden's Arboretum Summer Camp! Our day-camps are designed to promote environmental conservation through education and recreation, while having a ton of fun. Camp activities focus on hands-on exploration, play and experiential learning. Depending on the weekly theme, campers may become ornithologists, etymologists, artists, urban farmers or field biologists all while learning about the importance of teamwork and sustainability.

Summer Camp Field Assistants work with Camp staff to provide a rejuvenating, responsive, and engaging mid-day break for our campers. A loosely structured space for lunch and recess, our mid-day break can take many forms depending on the needs of our campers.

Field Assistants may lead field games, read books aloud, craft, perform an experiment with campers, or simply assist with group management and overall supervision.

Don't miss this chance to build rapport with youth, advance your group management skills, and share your enthusiasm for the natural world.

No experience necessary, just a love of nature and youth. Volunteers must be 19 years of age or older.

Volunteers will work in 1-2 hour shifts at mid-day each day to which they commit. We ask for a commitment of at least one full camp week between June 24th and August 30th (June 24-28; July 1-3; July 8-12; July 15-19; July 22-26; July 29-August 2; August 5- August 9; August 12- August 16; August 19- August 23; August 26- August 30)

Contact: Kim Daniel, Youth and Family Program Supervisor, 206-616-3381, kwdaniel@uw.edu