Skip to main content Skip to footer unit links

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!

printer friendly version.

Click boxes to select volunteer positions (up to 4)

  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; promote international tours. 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.

Contact: Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor, (206) 685-8033,

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 2 primary work sites, one at the UW Botanic Gardens' Center for Urban Horticulture on the east side of the UW-Seattle campus and one at the new Mercer Court dorms on the west side of the UW-Seattle campus.

Weekly commitment can range from 2-10 hours per week for at least 4 weeks.

Contact: Perry Acworth, Farm Manager, 206-550-4169,

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:

  • Assisting lead teachers in the implementation of age-appropriate curriculum, and activities to 3-5 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.

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

HORTICULTURE: P.C.G. Gardener Assistant

This position 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 unless the volunteer is licensed and bonded under ISA certified specs. WEEKDAYS ONLY! Work takes place rain or shine.

12 hours a month. Volunteers work a regular schedule of 3 hours weekly. Independent work available for qualified volunteers. Weekdays only.

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

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,

Junior Summer Camp 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, and college students 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.

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 (tentative): June 9 and June 22. Camp sessions (confirmed): June 25-29, July 2-6 (no camp July 4), July 9-13, July 16-20, July 23-27, July 30-August 3, August 6-10, August 13-17, August 20-24, August 27-31. M-F, 8:30 am-3:00pm each day.

Contact: Cait McHugh, School-Age Programs Coordinator, 206-543-8801,

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 Anderson, Serials Librarian, 206-543-0415,

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,

  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.

We will begin accepting applications December 1, 2017 for the 2018 Seattle training.

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.

Contact: Wendy Gibble, Rare Care Program Manager, (206) 616-0780,

  Youth Education: Volunteer Naturalist

Do you like sharing about and exploring the natural world? Do you enjoy working with youth? Use your naturalist skills and passions to teach and be taught by students pre-k through 12th grade. Volunteer Naturalists will lead 90 minute educational field trips on the grounds of one of the most spectacular places in Seattle - Washington Park Arboretum. Volunteer Naturalists may also get involved in Free Family Weekend Walks for the public, Family Nature Classes for youth ages 2-5 and their caregivers, Night Hikes for families, outreach events, and more! Training is provided prior to each season in the fall and spring while supplemental training is provided throughout the season.

Please be willing to work in all kinds of weather at least once a week for a 2 hour shift and make time to attend trainings and enrichments.

This position is not currently available

Select up to four positions you are interested in, then

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