Volunteer Positions


Ecological Restoration Projects

Ecological restoration emphasizes creating and managing healthy native plant communities. Drop in at a Saturday work party individuals need not register in advance), or join the Habitat Restoration Team (advance registration needed; work is primarily on weekdays).

Activities include cutting brush from remnant and restored areas, removing invasive plants, and burn unit preparation. As you work you'll learn about the Arboretum and its plant communities. Tools and training provided. We encourage volunteers from all backgrounds and experience levels. All tools, equipment, instruction, and refreshments are provided. Participants are advised to wear long pants, sturdy shoes, work gloves and other seasonally appropriate clothing. Insect repellent is also quite useful. Youths 12–17 are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian, with advance arrangements.

Please contact Earth Partnership Field Manager Marian Farrior at (608) 265-5214, or e-mail mlfarrior@wisc.edu for more information about the drop-in work parties.

The drop-in work party schedule is:

  • First Saturday of each month: Wingra Oak Savanna Project
  • Third Saturday: Grady Tract
  • Second and fourth Saturdays: Core Area

All drop-in work parties begin at 9 a.m. and end at noon. Work parties take place year-round, but are cancelled in case of severe weather (snowstorms, thunderstorms, temperatures lower than 10 degrees F or above 100 degrees F) or if the ground is too muddy or too snow covered for work.

Work Days at the Wingra Oak Savanna Project meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Monroe Street and Arbor Drive. Check the Madison Metro website for information on bus service to this area.

Work Days at the Core Area meet at the Arboretum Visitor Center steps.

Work Days at Grady Tract meet in the Grady Tract parking lot at the intersection of Seminole Highway and the Beltline frontage road.


Habitat Restoration Team

Join the Habitat Restoration Team, and work alongside the Arboretum's 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 mjhansen4@wisc.edu to learn more.


Wisconsin Native Plant Garden Assistants

Volunteers weed, plant, mulch, monitor and enjoy the Native Plant Gardens. Garden volunteers learn about Wisconsin's native plants and weeds, basic botany, plant care and ecological relationships. All tools and training are provided. Individuals and groups are welcome. One-time, biweekly, or weekly schedules can be arranged. Native Plant Garden Assistants are active spring through autumn. Contact Susan Carpenter at (608) 262-2445 or scarpen1@wisc.edu for more information.


Propagation & Planting Assistants

Help provide seeds and plants to the Native Plant Garden, researchers, and for ecological restoration projects on Arboretum properties. Planting and propagation volunteers participate in a wide array of activities including seed collecting, propagating, seed cleaning, transplanting, and planting out into the restoration areas. All tools and supplies will be provided. Planting & propagation volunteers are active Mondays and Thursdays almost year-round. Contact Susan Kilmer at sekilmer@wisc.edu for more information.


Earth Partnership for Schools Internship

Internships are available with our Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) program, a teacher professional development program that focuses on restoring native plant communities on school grounds and using them as outdoor classrooms. The EPS staff is looking for one or more interns to start in early spring with positions lasting through July, at least. Duties focus on the design and implementation of the Earth Partnership for Schools Summer Institute Series (held June, July, and August). This is an ideal opportunity for college students, K-12 teachers and community members who want first-hand experience with:

  • Curricular activity development (related to restoring native sites as outdoor classrooms on school grounds)
  • K-12 teacher professional development/program planning
  • Environmental education and inquiry science
  • Coordinating with statewide organizations involved with EPS

Please contact Earth Partnership for Schools Program Manager Cheryl Bauer Armstrong at (608) 262-5264 or cherylbauer@wisc.edu for further information.


Longenecker Horticultural Gardens Assistants

Volunteers work with the newest developments in the ornamental woody plant industry. Help with tree and shrub removal and planting, weeding and mulching, and pruning. 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. Training provided on the job. Contact Ken Zuba, Research Gardener, at kezuba@wisc.edu or (608) 262-3289 to learn more.


Visitor Center Receptionists

We seek friendly, outgoing people to welcome visitors to the Arboretum. Receptionists work in the Visitor Center year-round to ensure that people have a quality experience at the Arboretum. They greet visitors, answer questions, suggest tour routes, provide brochures, answer phones and direct calls, and occasionally take on small clerical tasks.

Training is provided on-the-job by staff and experienced volunteers, and we can schedule training sessions to suit most schedules. Ongoing support, training and education are available. Volunteers are asked to make an initial commitment of three shifts per month for six months after completing training. Shifts are available weekdays 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 to 4 p.m., and weekends 12:30 to 4 p.m. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or jakingsb@wisc.edu

Bookstore Assistants


Work in the Bookstore helping visitors with publication purchases. Assistants operate the cash register, keep the merchandise shelves and sales counter stocked and orderly, update product displays, and use the computer to access the Arboretum's web site and other relevant information. Bookstore assistants also answer the phone, responding to callers' questions and requests, including phone orders.

The Bookstore is open year-round. Training is provided on-the-job by staff and experienced volunteers. Ongoing support, training and education are available. Volunteers are asked to make an initial commitment of three shifts per month for six months after completing training. Shifts are available weekdays 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 to 4 p.m., and weekends 12:30 to 4 p.m. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or jakingsb@wisc.edu for more information.


Earth Partnership Team Leaders

Team Leaders participate in ecological restoration by leading other volunteers from diverse backgrounds at the Arboretum's drop-in work parties. Responsibilities of Team Leaders 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 of Wisconsin's native ecosystems while developing leadership and supervisory skills. Becoming a Team Leader is a way to deepen your knowledge of the natural world and make a difference for the environment. We ask a commitment of 60 hours of leading ecological restoration work parties once the training is completed.


Volunteer Stewards — Ambassadors for the Arboretum

If you would like to provide a valuable service to the Arboretum while walking or skiing the trails, the volunteer steward program may be for you. The steward program offers volunteers a unique opportunity to educate visitors on the proper uses of the Arboretum while assisting staff in monitoring such things as trail conditions and trail use.

The next training session is scheduled for Spring 2015. The training will be held at the Visitor Center and out on the grounds. Advance registration is required for this training session.

After training, each steward patrols the Arboretum at least four hours per month. Shifts are available year-round on a flexible basis. Steward uniforms and equipment are provided. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Judy Kingsbury at (608) 262-5604 or jakingsb@uwarb.wisc.edu for more information.


FOA Native Plant Sale Assistants

Volunteers are needed each year in May the week before Mother’s Day for organizing, labeling, moving and pricing plants in preparation for the Friends of the Arboretum Native Plant Sale; then for sales and cleanup on the day of the sale. Volunteering for the plant sale is a wonderful way to learn more about native plants and meet fellow gardeners. Please contact Friends of the Arboretum NativePlant Sale Coordinator Anne Rodgers-Rhyme at anne@rodgersrhyme.com or (608) 263-7760.


Naturalist’s Assistant at Earth Focus Day Camp

Each summer, from June through August, the Arboretum offers a summer nature program weekday mornings for children from pre-school through middle school. Our naturalists guide children in exploring the natural world through first hand experiences in the forests, wetlands, prairies, and classrooms of the Arboretum. Camp activities include hikes, art, music, games, stories, and using senses and observations to explore each session's theme. With all this activity, the naturalists need adults and older teens to assist with the sessions. If you enjoy children and exploring nature, this is a great way to combine those interests. Volunteers are asked to commit to all five mornings of at least one camp session to ensure continuity in the program. Also, volunteers are asked to attend an orientation session prior to each month's camp sessions. For a schedule of volunteer openings at Earth Focus Day Camp, contact the Volunteer Program Office at (608) 262-5604, or send an e-mail to Volunteer Coordinator Judy Kingsbury at jakingsb@wisc.edu.


Other Volunteer Opportunities

The Arboretum welcomes volunteers to share their time and talents in many different endeavors. We need help with maintaining trails, special events, data entry, and more. Individuals and groups can volunteer for a few hours or over several years, indoors and outdoors, contributing their special talents to the continued success of the Arboretum. For additional information on volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum, please contact the Volunteer Program Office at (608) 262-5604 or jakingsb@wisc.edu.