The JC Raulston Arboretum runs on volunteers. According to Kathryn Wall, their volunteer coordinator, they wouldn’t exist without them. From the receptionist greeting you at the visitor center to the gardener labelling plants in the garden to the instructor teaching schoolchildren about photosynthesis, a volunteer touches every aspect of this nonprofit.
“[The volunteers] love creating beautiful places for people to enjoy,” says Kathryn of the 300 volunteers who contributed 10,000 volunteer hours last year.
Started in 1976, the JC Raulston Arboretum became what it is today because of the work of volunteers. For 20 years, until his death in 1996, the arboretum’s founder and namesake, James Chester Raulston, worked alongside volunteers to bring this habitat for native plants to what it is today.
Kathryn, who was raised on a farm, noted that the arboretum’s mission of bringing nature to Triangle residents, 7 days a week, 365 days a year is more important than ever. 40 years after the Raulston Arboretum opened, Raleigh has far fewer acres devoted to farming as new construction dots the landscape.
“The green space will be more valuable than ever,” Kathryn noted. With more young people living in apartments, places like the arboretum offer a slice of nature for the many children who are removed from it.
Last fall, the Raulston Arboretum revived Moonlight in the Garden, a two-weekend event that brings the garden alive at night. Kathryn decided to enlist volunteers through Activate Good. The experience reinforced what she already knew about the volunteers drawn to the arboretum: They thrive on mutual respect and an ability to work together for a common goal.
Teen volunteers through Activate Good met the experienced, longtime volunteers of the garden. They worked together to create the unique ambience of the event: setting up the simple white bags with candles that lined the pathways throughout the garden, and then dramatically lighting them at dusk. Though separated by age and experience, the younger and older volunteers bridged that gap through volunteering together.
“Plant people are fun people,” says Kathryn.
The Raulston Arboretum is always looking for plant people to fill their ranks. Whether you enjoy working with kids, greeting visitors, or working in the garden itself, the Raulston Arboretum is a great place to volunteer.
Looking to share your love of plants? Check out these two upcoming volunteer opportunities at the arboretum: Help get the garden ready for Moonlight in the Garden. Or meet new people while learning about the garden as an information desk volunteer.
Kathryn Wall (center) with Activate Good
volunteers, Linda Lenzmeier and Joyce Moses