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Volunteer FAQ's

What are the benefits?

As a volunteer, you are entitled to 50% off the price of one individual Cornell Botanical Gardens membership, discounts on workshops and program fees, free training, and frequent learning opportunities. There is also the satisfaction that comes from helping Plantations fulfill its mission.

Can I work evenings and weekends?

In most cases, volunteer assignments will take place during daylight hours, from Monday through Friday, when staff is available for supervision. However, some assignments, such as leading a tour or helping in the visitor center, may take place in the evening or on weekends. Availability of the volunteer is always considered when determining placement.

How do I get started?

The first step is to review the current opportunities. Once you have decided that there is an opportunity you wish to apply for, go to the Online Volunteer Application and fill out an application form.  You will be asked for basic information about yourself, your availability, and the opportunities in which you are most interested.

I’ve filled out and submitted an application form. Now what?

Application forms are reviewed in the order in which they are received. We will make every effort to respond to you as soon as possible with instructions as to the next step in the process. Most applicants get a response within 2-5 business days. In some cases a reference check may be necessary. You will be contacted either by the Volunteer Coordinator, or a staff person responsible for the volunteer opportunity 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 opportunity.

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, paperwork and recording your volunteer service hours.  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. In recent years, such projects have included gorge clean-ups, trail chipping, and invasive plant removal. Each request for a service project is submitted to our Natural Areas team, which reviews the request and determines need. We request at least two weeks notice if requesting a project on a specific date.

What type of commitment is required?

Various levels of commitment are possible, depending on your interests and availability, and the nature of the assignment. As in most life situations, the greater your level of involvement, the greater the intrinsic reward. The duration of various assignments and hours per week vary considerably. For example, volunteers may work as a group in a garden one day a week, for two to four hours at a time, during the growing season. Tour guides may lead two or three tours a month, lasting approximately one to two hours each. The volunteer coordinator and your supervisor will work with you to determine a schedule that works for both you and Cornell Botanical Gardens. Please carefully consider your availability and degree of commitment before accepting any assignment.