Chicago Botanic Garden

SUPPORT THE GARDEN

Volunteer Opportunities –
Horticulture, Collections, and Research

Volunteers in horticultural services help grow and maintain plants in the display gardens, natural areas, and Greenhouses. They inform visitors about the collection and assist with casual inquiries. Most volunteers work outside one weekday morning from April through November. With staff supervision, they prepare soil, plant, weed, prune, and deadhead. It's physically demanding work that continues through the fall unless the weather is extreme. Volunteer opportunities are added as new gardens are constructed and specific skills are requested to evaluate collections and monitor species.

Places volunteers may be needed:
The display gardens; conservation/rare plant monitoring areas; research/laboratory; collections and plant records; Greenhouses; plant production area; and herbarium.

Opportunity

Time of Year

Preparation

Commitment

Activity

Educational Greenhouse

Year-round

On-the-job training; ability to follow directions, stoop, kneel, bend, and stand

1/2 day per week Monday – Friday morning

Maintain Regenstein Center plant collections

Plant Production

Year-round

Learn by doing, follow directions, work as part of a team

1/2 day per week Monday – Friday morning

Sow seeds, transplant, monitor, stake, trim nursery plants, and wash pots

Collections and Plant Records

Year-round

Knowledge of plants and the Garden helpful

1/2 day per week

Do research and data entry; map display gardens; maintain "What's in Bloom" cart

Research

Year-round

Background in plant science or lab experience

1/2 day per week

Help with data entry and slide preparation

Herbarium

Year-round

Background in plant science, botanical art, or computer literacy

1/2 day per week

Organize, label, and paste plant specimens and/or enter data in computer

Conservation Research

Year-round

Background in plant science and/or computer literacy

1/2 day per week

Data entry, working with digital images, plant processing, and occasional outdoor work

Laboratory - Conservation Genetics

Year-round

Lab experience

Two mornings or afternoons per week for a minimum of six months

DNA fingerprinting of plants

Laboratory - Tissue Culture

Year-round

Lab experience

1/2 day per week

Propagating plants using tissue culture

Rare Plant Monitoring

April – October

Background in plant identification; ability to engage in moderate outdoor activity

40 - 60 hours during the growing season

Monitor rare plant populations in Chicago region and record data

Native Habitats:
McDonald Woods, Dixon Prairie, Skokie River

Seasonal

Physical endurance or specific plant knowledge

Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning

Monitor native species; help with seasonal activities involving physical labor

North Gardens:Bulb, Aquatic, Native Plant; Rose, Heritage and Perennial Gardens

April – October

Gardening experience helpful; ability to bend, stoop, kneel, and work outside. Spring visitor interpretation training and seasonal updates

1/2 day per week in the morning

Assist staff with Garden maintenance and visitor interpretation

South Gardens:Evaluation, Japanese, English Walled, Circle, and Sensory Gardens

April – October

Gardening experience helpful; ability to bend, stoop, kneel, and work outside.

1/2 day per week in the morning

Assist staff with Garden maintenance