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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. We offer four opportunities per month to work in restorations at Saturday drop-in work parties.

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.

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 next training will take in 2025. 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, plant care, and sustainable gardening practices that foster native plants, pollinators, and other garden wildlife. 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 the 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 Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or judith.kingsbury@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. The next trainings will take place in April 2024. Contact Stephanie Petersen at (608) 262-2746 or smpetersen2@wisc.edu if you’re interested in being a steward.

Steward position description

Assistant Naturalists for Earth Focus Day Camp

Each summer the Arboretum offers a half-day nature program for children in elementary through middle school. Our naturalists guide them through first-hand experiences in the Arboretum forests, wetlands, prairies, and gardens. Camp activities include hikes, hands-on science exploration, nature games, stories, sensory observations, and nature play – 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.

EFDC assistant description (PDF)

Visitor Center Positions

Welcome and Information Desk

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

Welcome desk volunteer description (PDF)


The bookstore offers a fascinating and wide selection of nature books, toys, and games for all ages. Bookstore volunteers support the mission of the Arboretum by helping visitors locate and select materials related to their interests and needs. Bookstore volunteers also provide information, services, and resources on Arboretum programs, trails, and publications. Once trained, volunteers are asked to make an initial commitment of two shifts per month for six months. Weekday shifts are 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 12:30 to 4 p.m., and weekends are 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Bookstore volunteer description (PDF)

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 Friends of the Arboretum holds an on-site Native Plant Sale. Volunteers can help with sale preparation by organizing, labeling, moving, and pricing plants, or during the event with sales and cleanup. It is a good opportunity to learn more about native plants and meet fellow gardeners. Please email the plant sale coordinator to learn more and volunteer.

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.