Volunteer Opportunities

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens has a broad range of volunteer opportunities for gardeners of all experience levels; those interested in event planning and management, social media, and marketing; educators, artists, and computer gurus, to name just a few. Commitments range from a few hours on a single project to year-round participation. Although there are many behind-the-scenes activities to do over the winter, most garden-related volunteer opportunities begin in March and end in October and our gardening sessoins are held in the mornings, Monday – Thursday during the growing season.


The following list includes many of the volunteer opportunities available along with contact information and typical meeting times. Session leaders (as noted below) maintain email lists of volunteers that have expressed an interest in working in that area.  Each week the session leader sends out an email letting people know if, when, and where the group is meeting.  For each area you are interested in, contact the session leader and ask to be added to their volunteer email list.

Note to Franklin County Master Gardeners: Each year, Master Gardener Volunteers can count 10 hours of Chadwick Arboretum work for activities that are not listed on VMS.  The arboretum activities listed on MGVMS (Master Gardener Volunteer Management System) are noted below.

  • Cultivar Trial Gardens:  Volunteers help with greenhouse work, plant installations, garden maintenance, and performance evaluations throughout the growing season.
    Meets Tuesday mornings.
    Contact person: William Barnhill at barnhill.24@osu.edu
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Lane Avenue Gardens: Volunteers perform general garden maintenance in this 14-acre site that includes the labyrinth garden, hosta and conifer collections, phenology garden, seasonal displays, and more.
    Meets Wednesday mornings.
    Contact person: Trish Clark at clark.2849@osu.edu
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Learning Gardens: Volunteers provide general garden maintenance in our extensive perennial collections that include early spring ephemerals to late fall bloomers. This heavily visited garden provides an outdoor learning lab for students and the general public.
    Meets Thursday mornings.
    Contact person: Kathy Burkholder at burkholder.2@osu.edu
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Earth-Kind© Rose Garden: Volunteers maintain a substantial planting of Earth-Kind roses in our Learning Gardens.
    Meets on an as-needed basis
    Contact: Caye Aiello at cayeaie2@aol.com
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Horticultural Therapy Program: Volunteers provide basic horticulture experience for Adults with Developmental Disabilities. Volunteers develop weekly sessions during the off-season and secure supplies to implement the program. This volunteer group also participates in the spring plant sale to raise funds and awareness for the Horticultural Therapy Garden and Program. The garden is designed and maintained by volunteers with help from the horticulture staff.
    Meets Monday mornings during the late spring and summer.
    Contact person: Gail Santner at gdsantner2@gmail.com
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • OSU Tree Inventory and Accessions Management:  Volunteers assist in identifying, measuring, assessing and mapping trees of the OSU Columbus campus. Training is provided and an expertise in trees is not required.
    Meets on Friday afternoons.
    Contact person: Chris Voise at cdvoise@gmail.com
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Howlett Hall Green Roof Maintenance: Volunteers participate in all aspects of maintaining this beautiful space including weeding, transplanting, and pruning.
    Meets on an as-needed basis.
    Contact person:  Megan Meier at megan@highergroundgreenroofs.com
  • Phenology Research Garden:  The OSU Phenology Network is a statewide group of replicated gardens. Volunteers record bloom time of plants in our garden and report this data.  In 2015, a new component of studying native pollinators will be incorporated into this project.
    Contact person: Kate English at kate_english07@yahoo.com
    Approved for MGV Extension hours.
  • Photography: Chadwick Arboretum needs photos of our programs and gardens year round. Some of our most iconic photos have been taken during the off-season when most people aren't trekking about outdoors. Photos might be used to promote our gardens and events.
    This is an individual activity with no designated meeting time.
    Contact person:  Joan Shaull at joan.shaull@gmail.com
  • Tour Guides:  Volunteers are trained in the history of the gardens and the intent of our plant collections. Tour guides provide one-hour tours of various garden sites throughout the arboretum.
    Training sessions for tour guides are offered as needed.
    Contact person:  Kathy Burkholder at burkholder.2@osu.edu
  • Tour Guide Coordinator: Throughout the year groups wanting a guided tour of our gardens contact us.  The Tour Guide Coordinator would be the primary contact for anyone interested in scheduling a tour, secure trained tour guides and coordinate with the appropriate people at OSU to ensure a good experience for all involved.
    Contact person:  Kathy Burkholder at burkholder.2@osu.edu
  • Spring Plant Sale and Auction:  Volunteers orchestrate our biggest fundraiser, the spring sale on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend. Some committees, such as the plant ordering committee, begin to meet in early fall to develop the plant list. Opportunities vary from site setup to plant ordering. Many opportunities exist for this event – before, during and after the sale – and this is a great way to meet many of the volunteers who help in all aspects of our programs and operations.
    Contact person: Trish Clark at clark.2849@osu.edu
  • Social Media and Website Maintenance: Over the last several years a team of Chadwick volunteers has taken ownership of the development and maintenance of Chadwick’s on-line presence.  From actual website design to on-going maintenance of the site to ensure accuracy, to posting on Facebook and creating Instagram feeds, this group has an enormous impact.
    Contact person:  Trish Clark at clark.2849@osu.edu
  • Friends of Chadwick Membership Program:  Assistance is needed to manage Chadwick’s Friends membership program including promotion, data base management, benefits of friends membership, mailing etc.
    Contact person:  Mary Maloney at maloney.23@osu.edu
  • Coordinating Friends Lectures: Resources are available to bring in national speakers to present programs for our Friends, volunteers and the general public.  Due to limited staffing this never makes it to the top of the priority list.  Volunteer leadership in this area would be greatly appreciated.
    Contact person: Mary Maloney at maloney.23@osu.edu
  • Single Day Events:  Throughout the year Chadwick is involved with single day events that require leadership and manpower.  Although Chadwick’s staff has typically coordinated these events, volunteer leadership for any of these events would be greatly appreciated.
    • Volunteer Day of Education – Help is needed to plan the program, coordinate with speakers, food service and set-up. 
      Contact person:  Kathy Burkholder at burkholder.2@osu.edu
    • Recycling event – Help to unload plastic pots from cars and load them into a semi truck.  This event is in June each year. 
      Contact person:  Trish Clark at clark.2849@osu.edu
    • OFA Annual Dinner Reception – Volunteers are needed to help coordinate every aspect of this event from making table decorations, helping with set-up, serving food, and the planning the layout for the event.
      Contact person:  Mary Maloney at maloney.23@osu.edu
  • Ad Hoc Volunteer Opportunities:  Additional volunteer opportunities arise throughout the year. Help with these opportunities is requested via e-mail and is crucial for our operations. They are often one-time opportunities where assistance is needed on short notice. These include such things as preparing mailings to our Friends of the Arboretum; setup and serving refreshments at special events such as Arbor Day; creating or planting hypertufas for sale at the Spring Plant Sale; and much more. If you are unable or do not wish to work in the gardens, there are still lots of opportunities to help us grow our gardens.