Updated: Apr 25, 2020
Sampling the Fruits of Volunteering
With more than 900 volunteers each year, Volunteer Coordinator Kim Carrier knows something about what keeps volunteers coming and coming back to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: "Enjoying the beauty of nature is its own lure. Even if they are not working in the garden, driving through the gate evokes an emotional and spiritual response. It's in our DNA to connect with nature and to support places like this."
The Arboretum has many opportunities for volunteers to connect and support. With 1,200 acres, multiple specialized trial and display gardens within the garden, wetlands and prairie restoration projects, and apple and grape variety development, volunteers who like to work hands on and "dig in the dirt" can readily find a place and like-minded company.
But as a nonprofit, the Arboretum also needs the skills of people who can contribute by raising funds, memberships, and attendance. Volunteers bring their expertise with spreadsheets, databases, and informative reports to assist the organization. Volunteers help with major events, including planning, marketing, dealing with logistics, and even cleaning up. Volunteers also educate inside the gardens as tour guides, knowledgeable tram drivers, and teachers for children's and adult classes. Outside the garden, volunteer ambassadors speak to groups about this treasure in their area while others use their skill with social media to generate enthusiasm and attendance at the Arboretum.
Kim readily admits that the most popular volunteer job, however, is apple tasting! As a research facility, the Arboretum is actively developing new strains of the fruit. The popular Honey Crisp and the new Tango apples are results of their work. A newer grape-breeding program is also underway.
No matter the skills, interests, or experiences volunteers bring, they can find a way to "connect with nature and to support places" like the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Kim points out that across the U.S. are hundreds of other unique and wonderful gardens beckoning. Maybe they don't have apple tasting, but they will feed the emotional and spiritual needs of the human DNA.
For more about the educational program of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, listen to the Retire-To podcast 057 with Fern Albertson.
Check your local area for volunteer opportunities in gardens near you. Click Here for a list.
For as little as $2 you can support Ed's work at Retirement Kickstart! Click this link.