The first step is to look through our volunteer website and review our 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 and your interests. Applications are assessed on a rolling basis and a staff member will try to contact you within 3 business days of your application.
Yes! All volunteers must complete the online registration form and attend an in-person orientation prior to the first time they volunteer.
No gardening knowledge is required; all necessary knowledge is taught. We are most interested in your enthusiasm, flexibility, and willingness to learn.
Volunteers have the opportunity to do meaningful and gratifying work to further the mission of Southern Highlands Reserve and help promote and protect native plants of the Southern Appalachians -- an important intangible benefit. In addition, volunteers will receive a 10% discount at our annual Native Plant Sale, access to training and a wealth of resources, volunteer t-shirts, and a season-end recognition event.
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 on multiple teams, 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 are so appreciative of all our volunteers and recognize that you are taking time out of your schedule to work towards a mission you are passionate about. Missing a volunteer day is completely understandable, we simply ask that you alert your staff team lead so they can plan accordingly.
Clothing depends upon the team with which you are volunteering. For positions interacting with the public, you will be asked to wear a volunteer t-shirt. If you are working in the gardens, close-toed shoes are required. We would also encourage horticulture team volunteers to bring a hat, work gloves, sun block and water bottle.
We invite all volunteers to stay for lunch during their volunteer blocks. We encourage our volunteers to bring their own sack lunch to join us. Lunch is an opportunity to interact with other volunteers, learn and connect with staff, and enjoy the Reserve!
A limited number of projects are available to student and community groups each year. Requests for group projects should be sent directly to; please do not fill out a volunteer application. 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.