The Arboretum at Penn State


Dick Repsher and Tatiana Calmon, garden volunteers at the Arboretum, preparing Cannas for winter storage

Dick Repsher and Tatiana Calmon, garden volunteers, preparing Cannas for winter storage

Horticulture volunteers join Arboretum staff in caring for the horticultural displays at the Arboretum’s H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. Projects include planting and maintaining our seasonal displays, pruning trees and shrubs, and caring for our perennial gardens. Volunteers meet on designated weekdays throughout the year for three-hour sessions. Previous gardening experience is helpful but not required – our horticulture volunteers learn as they work with us!



Ralph Mumma, a docent at the Arboretum, greeting a garden visitor at the Overlook Pavilion

Ralph Mumma, Arboretum docent (on right), talking with a garden visitor at the Overlook Pavilion

Docents lead informative tours of the gardens for pre-scheduled visitor groups such as alumni organizations, Penn State undergraduate classes, conference attendees, garden clubs, and social organizations. Docents introduce these visitors to the wonder of the Arboretum, sharing interesting details about our history, gardens, landscape features, and specimen plants.


Arboretum volunteers registering participants for the jack-o’-lantern contest

Greeters serve as some of the Arboretum’s most important ambassadors, welcoming the public to the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens on days during the growing season when visitation is particularly high, such as during football weekends, Parents and Family Weekend, and graduation day. Greeters help visitors feel at home, providing information on seasonal garden highlights, site amenities, and other nearby attractions.


A group from the Child Care Center at Hort Woods crossing the Event Lawn


Our Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden opened in 2014, presenting volunteer opportunities for those who are interested in working with our garden educator to enhance our visitor’s experiences in the garden. Consider becoming a garden guide to greet children and families or lead tours in the children’s garden. Opportunities to connect children with nature in our wondrous learning landscape also include assisting at special events and educational activities in the garden.


Arboretum volunteers casting seed at the Prairie Restoration Site


Volunteers meet on selected Saturdays throughout the year to manage the Arboretum’s approximately 100 acres of natural lands. Members combat invasive plant species, install restoration plantings, maintain the network of walking trails in the Hartley Wood, and help to manage our five-acre prairie restoration site. Their current multi-year project is the Hartley Wood Wildflower Trail.

Spring 2019 Volunteer Flyer



Hooded warbler – Photo by Nick Kerlin


Every spring and autumn, our Avian Education program conducts bird-banding surveys and bird walks in the Arboretum’s natural areas and the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. Volunteers assist with identifying birds, banding, and maintaining feeding stations within the gardens.


Members of Helping Across the Community, a student service organization, at our annual Pumpkin Giveaway


Thousands of visitors join us for special events at the Arboretum, and our dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers help to ensure that the festivities are well-planned, successful, and fun.

Volunteers (especially service organizations) are invited to be part of our Pumpkin Festival team this fall. If you would like to be informed about these volunteer opportunities, please contact Kelly Oleynik, volunteer coordinator, at (814-867-2591).