What opportunities are currently available?
Volunteer opportunities are posted online and can be accessed on our Volunteer web page. The number and type of volunteer opportunities available depends on several factors, including the time of year, staff needs, and current projects and programs. Most assignments can only accommodate a limited number of individual volunteers. For these reasons, the listing of available opportunities changes from season to season. If you don’t see something you are interested in initially, check back regularly to see if any new opportunities have been added.
How do I get started?
The first step is to look through our volunteer website and review current opportunities. Once you have decided that there is an opportunity you wish to apply for, fill out an application form. You will be asked for basic information about yourself, your interests and availability. Make sure you click the “Submit” button when you have finished filling out the form.
I’ve filled out and submitted an application form. Now what?
Application forms are reviewed in the order in which they are received. If there are opportunities that match your interest and availability, we will respond to you as soon as possible with instructions as to the next step in the process. Some opportunities are limited to a small number of volunteers or certain days of the week, so we are not always able to accommodate every application. Opportunities are also limited in the winter. However, if there is an opening for which you are suited, you will be contacted either by the Volunteer Coordinator, or a staff person responsible for the volunteer assignment(s) you expressed an interest in. This person may request additional information from you, and will most likely schedule an interview or other face-to-face meeting to discuss the assignment.
What type of commitment is required?
The level of commitment depends in large part upon your availability and willingness to contribute. If you have the time and wish to contribute more, or serve in multiple assignments, you are welcome to do so! The length of commitment and hours per week vary depending on the time of year and the specific assignment, but around two to four hours per week is typical. We also suggest that new volunteers make a commitment of serving for at least one full calendar year or “growing season,” if possible. Some assignments, such as Garden Guide, require attending a series of trainings sessions and shadowing experienced volunteers before working on your own. Others may be more open-ended. Additional information will be supplied to you by your staff supervisor or the Volunteer Coordinator.
Although scheduling is often flexible, accepting a volunteer assignment requires a serious commitment of your time and energy. We therefore ask all prospective volunteers to carefully consider how much of their time they are realistically willing and able to dedicate to Botanic Gardens service before making the commitment.
Can I work evenings and weekends?
In most cases, volunteer assignments will take place during daytime hours, from Monday through Friday, when staff is available for supervision. However, some assignments may take place in the evening or on weekends. Availability of the volunteer is always considered when determining placement.
Who will I be working with?
Each volunteer is assigned to a staff supervisor. You may have more than one supervisor if you have more than one assignment. Your supervisor will be responsible for scheduling and training you. The volunteer coordinator maintains contact with staff supervisors, manages the volunteer database, and communicates regularly with the volunteers regarding assignments, schedules, profiles and time keeping. There may also be other volunteers with the same interests and/or skills as you, sharing your assignment. All of these individuals are resources for you, to help make your volunteer experience as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible.
Are group volunteer projects available?
A limited number of service projects are available to student and community groups each year. Typical projects include gorge or garden cleanups, trail chipping, mulching, and invasive plant removal. Each request for a service project is reviewed by staff who determine which project, if any, is suitable for the group. We request at least two weeks notice if requesting a project on a specific date.
What are the benefits?
As a volunteer, you are entitled to discounts in the gift shop, and on program and membership fees. Training and learning opportunities are provided free of charge to all volunteers. Free parking permits are provided when needed for volunteer work. Also, an annual appreciation event is held every fall to celebrate our volunteers and present service recognition awards.
What is Volgistics?
Volgistics is an internet-based service providing volunteer management software, with whom Cornell Botanic Gardens is a subscriber. All our volunteer data is stored securely by the Volgistics service and is available 24 hours a day via any computer with an internet connection. Links to the services provided by Volgistics are placed on our website for easy access by volunteers. Through Volgistics, prospective volunteers can view available opportunities and fill out application forms on-line. Existing volunteers can log in to post their hours, check their schedules, update their profiles, and in some cases sign-up for scheduled assignments and trainings.