Each semester, many hundreds of UMD students and community members volunteer their time to support the UMD Arboretum by performing weeding, mulching, planting, and litter cleanup. In 2022, the Arboretum recorded 5,927 volunteer hours at a record value of $178,861*.
Meg Smolinski, Outreach Coordinator for the Arboretum, organizes the work of these volunteers and appreciates the extra hands they provide for large projects as well as the opportunity to interact and connect with students and community members. While volunteers come from across UMD and the local community – UMD faculty and staff, scout groups, local gardening and environmental organizations – most are UMD students seeking to fulfill a course requirement, earn service hours, or to gain work experience in their chosen career field.
Meg points out that there are many benefits for student volunteers. The students gain a greater awareness of the campus while connecting to nature and the local community. “They get outside their normal patterns,” said Meg. “Working with their hands, connecting with the soil – it isn’t just about accumulating service hours. It’s something more.”
UMD student Maya Seitz started volunteering at the Arboretum just as COVID restrictions were being lifted. “I was feeling isolated and wanted to be more connected to my local community,” said Maya. “I’m very much a nature-lover so volunteering with the Arboretum was the perfect way to do that.”
Both Maya and horticulture student Logan Martin began as volunteers and got so interested that they applied to become interns. Logan first worked with the arboretum as part of a planting event organized by a group he is a member of and after meeting UMD arborist Michael Ellis, he was hooked. “One of the first things that drew me toward volunteering was how passionate Michael was about sustainability and staying conscious of our effects on the local ecosystem,” said Logan. “This is all stuff I'm very passionate about as a horticulture student, and he really went out of his way to provide opportunities.”
The Arboretum offers many and varied opportunities for groups and individuals to help beautify the UMD campus landscape while spending time in the great outdoors. Several internships, with different areas of focus are available to UMD students. Internships are generally unpaid, but course credit may be available.
Visit the Arboretum website to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you can volunteer.
*Based on data from the nonprofit organization Independent Sector