Tyler Arboretum just hosted back-to-back events focusing on a very special group of people that play such an important role at the Arboretum – the volunteers. Volunteers really play a critical part in the success of the day-to-day operations and special events at Tyler. Of course, any and all non-profit organizations can use more volunteers, whether the volunteers can donate their time and talents for a one-time event or for a series of ongoing programs. One of my colleagues likes to use the phrase, “get in where you can fit in” – wise advice to us all!
Tyler hosts an annual Volunteer Open House, and the description in the Autumn 2013 Tyler Topics issue made the event sound very inviting!
Get involved! Share your talent and continue learning. Volunteers play a vital role in the operation of the Arboretum. Their assistance enables us to expand and enhance all areas of the organization, and helps us to grow as a community resource. Please join us for coffee and baked goods while learning about the many volunteer opportunities that are available. Staff and veteran volunteers will be able to share their experiences and answer questions.
Although I read my issues of Tyler Topics cover-to-cover and keep on top of the website announcements and calls for volunteers, I figured I could always learn more about opportunities at Tyler, so I attended the Open House. When I arrived, I was immediately greeted by a Tyler staff member and welcomed to the event. The Volunteer Open House was set up like a job fair, where I could go around the room and spend as much time as I wanted speaking with Tyler staff about various areas with volunteer needs – Plant Records & Inventory, North Woods & Chestnut Orchard, Horticulture & Handyman, Vegetable Garden, Butterfly House, Education, Communications, and Special Events. There was alot of energy in the room, and I was pleased to see the engaging conversations over all volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum. I saw many people filling out their volunteer application on the spot. I hope to see some of these new volunteers at events in the future, such as the next big event with a large need for volunteers – Pumpkin Days!
The following week had a really special evening event – the Volunteer Appreciation Reception. I don’t know the final count, but there were well over 50 of Tyler’s volunteers that came out for hors d’oeuvres, light refreshments, and some great conversations. I really enjoyed seeing and speaking with people I had met at previous Tyler events, including people I had just volunteered with that morning over at the chestnut tree nursery.
Tyler’s Executive Director and members of the Senior Management Team made remarks to thank all of us for our volunteering time and shared some amazing facts about the Arboretum and the impact of volunteer contributions. For example, the Arboretum had an incredible summer, shattering attendance records for the past two months, and had a complete sell-out of the summer camp programs for the first time ever. Record numbers of visitors and attendance at programs certainly needs the help of volunteers for everything to run smoothly! In the past year, over 13,000 hours of time were contributed by Tyler volunteers, which comes out to the equivalent of 7 full-time staff positions (wow!). The names were read off for this year’s recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (more information about this in a future post! See a brief summary of last year’s recognition event), and I even heard someone saying she was going to challenge herself to earn the Bronze Award for Volunteering next year (see Award Eligibility for details).
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and was sad to see it end. I think one of the highlights for me was a statement I overheard one volunteer say to another as they left the event – “see you at Pumpkin Days!”
Yes, you will definitely see me there – as a volunteer the day of the event, and with some homemade bake goods at the Pumpkin Days Bake Sale!
Anyone interested in volunteering at Tyler, especially for Pumpkin Days (the largest event of the year!), please contact Tyler’s amazing volunteer coordinator, Melissa Hamblin. She will absolutely find a way for you to “get in where you fit in!”
Melissa Hamblin, Volunteer Coordinator
Phone: (610) 566-9134, ext 205
Office Hours: MWF, 10 AM – 3 PM