2017-05-07 11.04.22_brochure_web

The Visitor Center remains closed as we work through operational needs to provide safe and welcoming access for all staff, volunteers, and visitors. Check back for reopening information soon. Some outdoor in-person events have resumed – please see event listings for outdoor and virtual events, and COVID-19 updates for current information about Arboretum operations.

Volunteers can sign up as individuals, families, and groups. Read through our volunteer opportunities to find a good match for you or your group’s interests, skills, and schedule.

The best options for families and groups are in the gardens and on ecological restoration projects. We welcome groups of all kinds – including parents and children, large family groups and reunions, scout troops, service clubs, faith groups, corporate teams, and school classes.

Individuals, once you have an idea of how you’d like to volunteer contact Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or judith.kingsbury@wisc.edu to get involved, or contact the person listed under a particular opportunity.

Training and tools are provided for all volunteers.

Ecological Restoration

Ecological restoration is the practice of creating and managing healthy native plant communities. The Arboretum relies on – and deeply appreciates! – volunteer labor to help with this ongoing work. Opportunities to work in our restorations are Saturday drop-in work parties or the Habitat Restoration Team (work is primarily on weekdays and registration is required).

Drop-in Work Parties

Activities include cutting brush from remnant and restored areas, removing invasive plants, and burn unit preparation. Work parties are a great way to practice ecological restoration, learn about the Arboretum plant communities, and make friends. We encourage volunteers from all backgrounds and experience levels. Please see our Restoration Work Parties page for more information. Contact Marian Farrior at (608) 265-5214 or marian.farrior@wisc.edu for more information.

Habitat Restoration Team

The Habitat Restoration Team works alongside the field staff to carry out ecological restoration projects throughout the year in the Arboretum and at our outlying properties. This group works weekdays. Contact Michael Hansen at (608) 225-3995 or michael.hansen@wisc.edu to learn more.

Habitat Restoration Team Description

Restoration Team Leaders

Team Leaders lead the drop-in work parties. Responsibilities include teaching and supervising volunteers, controlling invasive species by hand or with herbicides, clearing brush, planting seeds and plants in restoration sites, and collecting research data.

Team Leader trainees learn about the science and art of ecological restoration while developing leadership and supervisory skills. The 2019 training will take place in October. We ask a commitment of 60 hours of leading ecological restoration work parties once the training is completed. Contact Marian Farrior at (608) 265-5214 or marian.farrior@wisc.edu for more information.

Team Leader Position Description

Gardening and Horticulture

Wisconsin Native Plant Garden Assistants

Volunteers weed, plant, mulch, and do other tasks spring through autumn to maintain the native plant gardens. Garden volunteers learn about Wisconsin’s native plants and weeds, basic botany, and plant care. Individuals and groups are welcome. One-time, biweekly, or weekly schedules can be arranged. Contact Susan Carpenter at (608) 262-2445 or susan.carpenter@wisc.edu for more information.

NPG Assistant Description

Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Assistants

Volunteers help with tree and shrub removal and planting, weeding and mulching, and pruning and follow the newest developments in the ornamental woody plant industry. Gain knowledge of the Arboretum’s garden specimens, understanding of horticulture practices, satisfaction of enhancing our gardens, a sense of camaraderie from working with others, and practical experience for resume building. New and experienced gardeners welcome. Bending, kneeling, and lifting are a part of the work, which takes place weekdays. On-the-job training provided. Contact David Stevens at (608) 890-4825 or david.stevens@wisc.edu to learn more.

LHG Assistant Description

Volunteer Stewards: Ambassadors for the Arboretum

Volunteer stewards serve as goodwill ambassadors, sharing information about Arboretum programs and work, explaining rules, and helping visitors. Stewards also assist staff with monitoring trail conditions and phenology. Each steward patrols at least four hours per month, exploring every part of the Arboretum and assisting visitors from across the Midwest and beyond. Stewards independently patrol the trails in all seasons, positively influence visitor experience, record trail conditions and visitor interactions after each shift, and help protect the Arboretum. Trainings take place annually, beginning in March. The 2020 trainings will take place April 15 (evening), April 18 (full day), and April 19 (full day). Contact Stephanie Petersen at (608) 262-2746 or smpetersen2@wisc.edu if you’re interested in being a steward.

Steward Position Description

Assistant Naturalist for Earth Focus Day Camp

Each summer the Arboretum offers a half-day nature program for children in pre-school through middle school. Our naturalists guide them through first-hand experiences in the Arboretum forests, wetlands, prairies, and classrooms. Camp activities include hikes, hands-on science exploration, nature games, stories, and sensory observations – all meant to foster curiosity and a sense of wonder. Adults and teens interested in nature education can volunteer to assist the naturalists during the sessions. Volunteers are asked to commit to all five mornings of at least one camp session and must attend an orientation session. For more details and a schedule of volunteer openings at Earth Focus Day Camp, contact Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or judith.kingsbury@wisc.edu.

EFCD Assistant Description

Visitor Center Positions


We seek friendly, outgoing people to welcome visitors. They greet visitors, answer questions, suggest tour routes, provide brochures, answer phones and direct calls, and occasionally help with clerical tasks.
 Training sessions can be arranged to suit most schedules. Once trained, volunteers are asked to make an initial commitment of three shifts per month for six months. The weekday shifts are 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. or 12:30–4 p.m., and weekends are 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Receptionist Description

Bookstore Clerks

Our bookstore offers a fascinating and wide selection of nature books for all ages and interest levels. Bookstore assistants help visitors, sell merchandise, stock and straighten shelves, update product displays, and use the Arboretum’s website and Internet. Bookstore assistants also answer the phone, responding to callers’ questions and requests, including phone orders.
 Once trained, volunteers are asked to make an initial commitment of three shifts per month for six months after completing training. Weekday shifts are 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. or 12:30 to 4 p.m., and weekends are 12:30–4 p.m.

Bookstore Clerk Description

Contact Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or judith.kingsbury@wisc.edu.

Friends of the Arboretum Positions

FOA Native Plant Sale Assistants

Each May, the day before Mother’s Day, the Friends of the Arboretum holds a Native Plant Sale. Volunteers can help with preparation by organizing, labeling, moving and pricing plants, or with sales and cleanup at the event. It is a good opportunity to learn more about native plants and meet fellow gardeners. Please email Karen Deaton or call (608) 571-53620.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

The Arboretum welcomes volunteers to share their time and talents. In addition to the regular opportunities listed above, volunteers can help with maintaining trails, special events, data entry, and more.
 Individuals and groups can volunteer one time for a few hours or regularly over several years, indoors and outdoors, contributing special talents to the continued success of the Arboretum. To discuss ideas and opportunities please contact Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or judith.kingsbury@wisc.edu.