The goal in all of Bernheim’s activities is to help fulfill our mission of connecting people with nature. Whether you volunteer several hours or several hundred hours, you will provide meaningful service to Bernheim and our visitors. Through the volunteer program, you’ll receive on the job training, gain access to programs and specialized training opportunities, meet other volunteers, and have fun in nature.
While working throughout the 14, 000 acres of forest or the 600 acre arboretum, volunteers participate in a variety of activities that allow them to explore the great outdoors. The ever-changing landscape at Bernheim gives each volunteer the opportunity for lifelong learning. If you love Bernheim, we have the ideal job waiting for you. Please let us know of your skills and interests and we will be happy to find you the perfect position in which to grow.
Individual volunteers should be at least 16 years old to volunteer.Those younger than 16 are encouraged to volunteer with their families or with a student group (i.e. FFA, Scouts,etc). Call for details about these opportunities.
Connect with People
Isaac’s Café Volunteer
Are you a master chef, or even a home cook that wishes you had an excuse to cook more? Issac’s Café is open inside the Visitor Center daily, and can always use help in providing visitors with sandwiches and soups made from locally grown ingredients.
Organization lovers apply here. Volunteers are vital in helping to send information to our 5,000 members across the country. Our administrative staff can also use help in delivering copies of our newsletter, the forest echo, throughout the community, as well as entering programs into online calendars and archiving press we receive. Some administrative work may be done at home.
Do you love Bernheim so much you want to tell the world about it? Here’s your chance to travel throughout the Bernheim community (Louisville, Shepherdsville, Bardstown, and beyond) and share the wonder of Bernheim. Work with Bernheim staff to have the knowledge to answer questions at community booths, speak at engagements, and be the traveling “face of Bernheim.”
Pollywog Play Partier
Come play in the Pollywog Pond with Bernheim’s smallest visitors. The first Saturday of each month is home to a Pollywog Play Party, where children under the age of five learn about nature through music, art and outdoor play. Help our Education staff in preparing for the programs.
Visitor Center Volunteer
If you love talking to people, this is the perfect position for you. Volunteers working at our Bernheim’s stunning LEED® Platinum Certified Visitor Center will help our Visitor Services Staff in greeting visitors, maintaining the appearance of the gift shop and Visitor Center exhibits, assist guests with gift shop merchandise and answer other questions about Bernheim.
Calling all nature and knowledge lovers. Bernheim’s award-winning Naturalist in Training (NIT) Program provides volunteers with and in depth learning and service experience. The NIT program begins each winter and creates a volunteer community through an inspired curriculum where volunteers will greatly increase their knowledge of the local environment. That knowledge can then be used to lead various Bernheim educational programs and lead hands-on discovery stations at Bernheim events and programs. NITs are required to volunteer at least 60 hours per year.
Volunteer Naturalists will have the opportunity to volunteer in the following capacities:
Fire Tower Guide
Atop Forest Hill Drive sits Bernheim’s historic fire tower, which provides a sweeping view of Bernheim’s tree tops and landscape. Fire Tower Guides escort visitors into the tower and provide a brief educational background to visitors waiting in line to scale the stairs. Show off a grand expanse of beauty from atop this historically registered fire tower.
If you love to share your knowledge with other people, leading one of Bernheim’s regularly held programs may be the role for you. Volunteers have long led many of our programs, including O.W.L.S. (Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors) and Night Hikes. Program hosts work with Bernheim Education staff to develop and deliver content on various relevant topics for adult and family groups who attend Bernheim’s public programming.
Discovery Station Leader
Discovery Stations are a great way to find an aspect of nature that you love, study it and then share what you’ve learned with kids of all ages. NITs will provide visitors with hands-on opportunities to investigate the natural world through the use of natural materials (living and artifacts), visual aids, props and activities. Most discovery experiences will be “stationed” outside and will include short activities (10-minute encounters or 30-minute hikes). Discovery experiences aim to increase visitors’ appetite for knowledge and direct experiences in the natural world.
If you have an interest in any of the above positions, but don’t have the time to fully participate in the NIT program, please contact Bernheim’s volunteer department. We can find a way for you to work with other Volunteer Naturalists to get the experience you desire.
Connect with Nature
Perform periodic inspections of the terrarium and aquarium in the Visitor Center to ensure that they are operating, clean, and well stocked with healthy plants/animals.
Play in the dirt at Bernheim. Bernheim’s volunteer gardeners assist the horticulture staff in enhancing the overall appearance of the arboretum and in maintaining plant operations within the nursery and greenhouses. Bernheim’s plants are a cornerstone of our mission of connecting people with nature and the volunteers who work with them are an essential part of every visitor’s experience. The Gardening Group primarily meets 9am-noon each Thursday morning, though other shifts may be available.
Are you a regular Bernheim hiker? Do you have a schedule that needs flexible hours? Walk the trails to inspect and report trail conditions, pick-up litter and, if interested, assist with repairs. Hours are flexible, as you may simply hike when you wish, picking up a trail inspection form at the Visitor Center when you arrive. As you hike, merely let us know if you find limbs in the path, signs that need to be replaced or other items of note. Another option is joining our Outdoor Signage Maintenance Team,where you will work with staff to perform periodic inspections of all outdoor educational signage. As you hike, take some small tools to perform routine maintenance and cleaning. Report back to Bernheim staff about any missing trail markers; replace with the new ones when you come back for your next hike. Great opportunity for students needing service hours!
If you have ever wanted a chance to explore Bernheim’s natural areas beyond the hiking trails, become a Weed Warrior. Bernheim’s skilled Natural Areas and Horticulture staff will work with volunteers to show them the many different invasive species that threaten the Natural Areas and Arboretum. Weed Warriors will then have the opportunity to adopt an area of Bernheim and become responsible for its upkeep and to keep it free of invasive species such as garlic mustard and honeysuckle in order to maintain the health of our forest.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Amy Joseph Landon, (502) 955-8512 x 262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.