For students interested in giving back to the environment or learning more about the region’s natural ecosystems, the UCF Arboretum is offering several volunteer opportunities the semester.
Established in 1983, the 72-acre Arboretum is home to a variety of plant and animal life.
“Volunteers can meet new people, achieve their New Year’s resolution to be healthy, gain valuable outdoor skills, get hands-on experience for their future careers, learn about Florida flora and fauna, receive organic produce and give back to the community, all without leaving campus,” said UCF Arboretum program coordinator Tina Richards.
Individuals and groups interested in volunteering at the Arboretum can choose from multiple activities and locations; including cleaning up trails and removing invasive species in the natural areas; creating vegetable beds and harvesting plants in the community garden; and landscaping and planting trees through urban forestry.
In order to select the best opportunity, volunteers should check to see which activity best fits their availability, and then match their skills and interests with the different opportunities and projects for that day.
“Students interested in careers related to forestry or land management might find the Natural Areas or Urban Forestry opportunities very beneficial because of the exposure to native flora and fauna in Florida’s scrub habitats and wetlands, while volunteers interested in starting their own home garden or windowsill garden might enjoy learning about how to successfully grow herbs and vegetables,” said Richards. “We encourage students to try different opportunities to get a well-rounded experience.”
The Arboretum also offers a new incentive program for student volunteers upon completion of service hours. For serving four hours, students will receive a bumper sticker; six hours will earn a reusable tote bag; and 20 hours will earn an organic T-shirt.
“The new incentives program is one way we try to thank the volunteers for their priceless help,” said Richards. “Without them, we would not be able to realize our mission or make the campus beautiful.”
Volunteers should arrive promptly at the beginning of their desired shift, wear closed-toe shoes and bring a reusable water bottle. Groups of more than five volunteers must fill out a group volunteer application online at least seven to 10 days in advance.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum, visit www.arboretum.ucf.edu.