In many ways volunteers are the heart of our organization and are essential for Bernheim’s success in fulfilling our mission of connecting people with nature. There are a variety of ways people of all ages can volunteer at Bernheim. From more rugged trail work, to gardening, to the reception desk at the Education Center, to helping with youth programming, Bernheim has outdoor and indoor opportunities for everyone.
Our volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to):
Join our Thursday morning gardening group to assist the Horticulture department in enhancing the overall appearance of Bernheim’s arboretum, as well as helping maintain Bernheim’s plant operations within the nursery and greenhouses. These volunteers will also be involved with our Living Roof Program and special events.
Work with our Edible Garden Steward by weeding, mulching, planting, watering, working compost and a variety of other activities to keep the garden well-maintained and productive. Bernheim’s Edible Garden focuses on edible plants and landscapes to help visitors of all ages and backgrounds understand how they can grow food themselves, at home or in their community. This garden also provides fresh produce for Isaac’s Café.
Are you a stickler for the perfect lawn and landscape bed? Our Horticulture Department needs volunteers to help mow and string-trim the grounds throughout the arboretum. This volunteer position provides on-the-job training, and an opportunity to work in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
The volunteer Playcosystem landscape team works during low visitation periods to mow, weed, weed eat, rake, sweep, prune, mulch and perform other landscape maintenance activities to keep Playcosystem in perpetual visitor-ready status. Because Playcosystem is open to the public whenever Bernheim is open, the job requires constantly adjusting work tasks depending on how the space is being used by visitors.
Pollywog Play Parties combine music, art, language and outside play to encourage children, 5 and under, and their families to learn about nature. Volunteers participate in the preparation, presentation and clean-up of the parties.
Bernheim’s award-winning Naturalist Program provides volunteers with an in-depth learning and service experience. The Naturalist Program begins each winter and creates a volunteer community through an inspired curriculum where volunteers will significantly increase their knowledge of the local environment. That knowledge can then be used to lead various Bernheim educational programs and hands-on discovery stations at events and programs. Naturalists are required to volunteer at least 60 hours per year.
Want to be involved in the Naturalist Program, but don’t have 60 hours a year available to volunteer? Become a Naturalist Assistant and provide support to our team of Volunteer Naturalists through direct involvement with our E.C.O. Kids programs and other special events.
This volunteer position supports the education staff to prepare for programs and events, as well as help with organizational tasks. Tasks could include, but are not limited to, gathering and preparing materials for craft projects and educational programs, filing paperwork and assisting with mailings.
Volunteer play facilitators work within various zones of Playcosystem to help visitors maximize their play experience at Bernheim and serve as ambassadors for outdoor free play. They interact with families, both adults and children, to explain why Bernheim is involved in play and to help parents understand the value of outdoor play, risk in play, self-directed free play, and other play topics. They maintain the loose parts, perform light landscape maintenance, and keep the play space in a safe working condition. They also serve as play ambassadors by answering questions and helping families get the most out of their visit. Play facilitators must be comfortable initiating conversations with Bernheim visitors of all ages.
Minimum of four hours per month preferred.
Visitor Services Opportunities
Volunteers work side by side with staff in all aspects of Visitor Services, such as greeting visitors, answering phones and questions, and labeling and selling merchandise. Our LEED Platinum Visitor Center is the hub for visitors looking for information, gifts or just a place to relax and enjoy nature. Our visitors are our biggest asset (besides our volunteers!), and we need you to help us take care of them.
As a café volunteer, you will work closely with staff in all areas of food service including food prep, making lunches, taking orders and washing dishes. This position will also talk with visitors about the relationship between the Edible Garden and the food that is served at Isaac’s Café. Isaac’s offers a relaxing area where visitors can enjoy a wonderful local lunch — using produce from the garden, along with breads, meats and cheeses from small businesses in the surrounding community. Join a fun group of talented and conscientious food lovers and help our visitors to connect with the story behind their meal!
Natural Areas Opportunities
If you have ever wanted a chance to explore Bernheim’s natural areas beyond the hiking trails, become a Forest Steward. Bernheim’s skilled Natural Areas staff will work with volunteers to show them the many different plant species that threaten the Natural Areas and Arboretum. Forest Stewards will then have the opportunity to adopt an area of Bernheim, becoming responsible for its upkeep and keeping it free of unwanted plant species to maintain the health of our forest.
Volunteers check the trails for hazardous conditions, missing trail markers and trash. This volunteer position is critical to ensuring visitors' safety throughout our 40 miles of trails. Hand tools, trail markers and supplies are provided.
Volunteers help answer phones, greet guests and assist with administrative tasks. Bernheim takes pride in having a personal greeting for every visitor and our volunteers make this possible.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Ida Brown via email or at (502) 531-1541.
Individual volunteers should be at least 16 years old. Those younger than 16 are encouraged to volunteer accompanied by an adult.
*Individual volunteers are required to show proof of COVID vaccination.*
Bernheim welcomes volunteers from organizations, schools, or any group of people wanting to support Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature.