At the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, we rely on volunteer support in every area of operations. As a volunteer, you can learn new skills, meet other people who share your interests, and feel wonderful about supporting our environment. Whatever your skills or interests, the Arboretum and Public Garden welcomes you.
Volunteers donate more than 15,000 hours of service each year. Depending on their skills, interests, and availability, prospective volunteers can be assigned as members of a team that meets for three hours one morning each week. At this time, most training takes place ”on the job.” Sometimes, training sessions are offered to a group of volunteers.
The Arboretum and Public Garden also welcomes volunteers who prefer to work on short-term projects. We can always use assistance at our renowned plant sales. We schedule volunteer workdays several times a year for planting or garden clean-up projects. Many service organizations enjoy coming out for a day of work in the garden. We also work with volunteers for special projects in garden design, computer programming, marketing, photography, and other fields.
Regular Volunteer Opportunities
- Gardening Volunteers work with the Arboretum and Public Garden's horticulture staff to beautify and maintain the collections and gardens.
Schedule: Arboretum and Public Garden gardeners commit to one gardening shift per week for approximately three hours. The hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings. We also ask that each of our volunteers help with three of our plant sales every year.
Qualifications: Volunteer gardeners should love gardening and have a basic knowledge of plant and weed identification. The ideal volunteer gardener will have the physical ability to lift 30 pounds and to shovel, hoe, dig, plant, weed, prune, and haul garden trimmings. Must be able to work outside in hot or cold weather. The ability to work independently as well as a member of a team is highly desirable.
- Land Stewardship
- Land stewardship volunteers work with Arboretum and Public Garden staff on campus naturalized lands including the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. Projects include trail repair, native plant care, weed control, light construction as well as a variety of equipment and power tool operation.
Schedule: Volunteers meet on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings.
- Nursery Assistant
- Nursery assistant volunteers help the nursery staff produce and care for ornamental plants in a container nursery. They propagate plants by seed and cuttings, coordinate irrigation needs with staff and irrigate plants if needed, repot plants, weed and prune plants, rake leaves, lift and carry plants, wash pots, clean and organize. Volunteer nursery assistants keep propagation records and nursery inventory, print tags, and record all activities as necessary.
Schedule: Nursery assistants commit to one shift per week for approximately three hours. Nursery work groups meet 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings. We also ask that each of our volunteers help with three of our plant sales every year
Qualifications: Nursery assistants should be interested in learning about growing plants in containers and plant propagation methods, and be able to work in cooperation with others in sometimes crowded conditions. Experience or course work in the culture and propagation of plants is a plus but not required. Must be able to work outside in hot or cold weather. The ability to work independently as well as with a team is highly recommended.
- Curatorial volunteers work with the Arboretum and Public Garden curatorial staff to help inventory new and permanent collections of plants, assist with plant labeling, help maintain the Arboretum plant records system, and assist with collection mapping projects. Curatorial volunteers may also help the curatorial staff collect plant samples and prepare lists as needed for scientific research and teaching.
Schedule: Curatorial volunteer projects require a commitment of three hours per week. We also ask that each of our volunteers help with three of our plant sales every year.
Qualifications: Curatorial volunteers should enjoy detail-oriented work and have an interest in museums and conservation issues; research skills are valuable. Careful attention to accuracy is a must. Much work in the curatorial area is quiet and independent and suited to a well-organized person. Volunteers assisting with plant records must be willing to work with computer records. Volunteers helping with plant labels, collection maps and lists, and assisting researchers must be willing to work outdoors in variable weather conditions.
- Docent volunteers lead educational and informational tours through the collections of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. Docents provide information about the Arboretum to the general public during tours, at headquarters, and at special events such as Picnic Day.
Schedule: Docents sign up for tours and education events each quarter. Regularly scheduled docent tours are on weekends. Special group tours are scheduled as needed. Tours last about 90 minutes. Docents are asked to lead at least six tours every year. We also ask that each of our volunteers help with three of our plant sales every year.
Qualifications: Docents must enjoy talking with people, doing library and field research, and walking through the gardens. A pleasant manner and a professional attitude with the general public, Arboretum and Public Garden staff, and other volunteers are required. Gardening or nature study experience, education, or a plant science background is helpful.
- Volunteer naturalists help with environmental education programs for visiting elementary school classes. They work with experienced naturalists to guide small groups of children (grades 2-4) on nature walks in the Arboretum and Public Garden, and lead hands-on activities to supplement the nature tour.
Schedule: Volunteer naturalists are required to participate in one tour per week during the fall and spring tour seasons. Each tour takes approximately two hours, with one additional hour of preparation and clean-up time. Tours are scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. during the months of March through May (spring season) and September through November (fall season). In additions, naturalists help with special group tours outside the normal schedule and programs for youth and families. We also ask that each of our volunteers help with three of our plant sales every year.
Qualifications: Must enjoy working with elementary-aged students and must be available to work at least one morning per week during spring and fall. An appreciation for nature, wildlife, gardens, and education is required, and knowledge about biodiversity, public gardens, and/or wildlife habitat in California is helpful. An enthusiastic attitude and willingness to motivate children is essential.
- Nursery Caretaker
- Nursery caretaker volunteers partner with the Arboretum and Public Garden Curator, Propagation Specialist, and Assistant Director of Horticulture to care for the headquarters nursery. Duties include keeping accurate inventories (both printed and in the database), maintaining nursery plants, insuring accurate plant labels are with each plant, and general nursery maintenance duties including weeding, watering, and fertilization. As needed, Nursery Maintenance Volunteers may also be called upon to help the Nursery staff with plant sales.
Schedule: This group meets Tuesday mornings, 9-noon.
Qualifications: Nursery Caretakers Volunteers should enjoy a love of plants and enjoy detail-oriented work. Computer literacy is required and careful attention to accuracy is more important than speed. This position is hands-on and also requires organizational skills. As Nursery Caretaker Volunteer you will get the opportunity to work both inside and outside. Members of this crew should be willing to work in all weather conditions. The ability to work independently as well as a member of a team is highly recommended.
- Garden Inventory
- Garden inventory volunteers partner with the curator and Arboretum and Public Garden horticulturists to record new plantings, maintain the planting records database, update garden maps in ArcGIS, and keep up to date plant inventories of the garden.
Schedule: This group meets Tuesday mornings, 9-noon.
Qualifications: Garden Inventory Volunteers should enjoy detail-oriented work and critical thinking skills are valuable. Computer literacy is required and you must be willing and able to learn new software. Careful attention to accuracy is more important than speed. Much of the work is best suited to a well-organized person. Curiosity and interest in exploring alternative, more effective or efficient ways of accomplishing goals is always a plus! If you enjoy puzzles, playing detective, or untangling a ball of yarn, this job is for you!!