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Volunteer Program

San Diego Botanic Garden

PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID-19, our Volunteer Program is being reassessed to determine how volunteers will continue to engage in the Garden. Currently, we apologize that we are not accepting applications for new volunteers.

We will be updating this page with information related to COVID-19 and how our Volunteer Program may be affected. Please check back periodically for updates on how you can get involved with the Garden. Thank you for your interest!

For more information or questions, please email Volunteer Manager Jill Gardner at jgardner@sdbgarden.org.


If you are interested in volunteering at the San Diego Botanic Garden, you’ll be in good hands – we have a professional staff and dedicated team of volunteers who have extensive knowledge and passion for the Garden. They are helpful and willing to assist new volunteers. Your unique skills and interests have a place in our Garden; our staff and volunteers are here to encourage and support you.
Becoming a volunteer at San Diego Botanic Garden is a three-step process, depending on your interests. Once you have decided to offer your time and expertise, please plan ahead so you can meet the requirements and get started!

1. Attend one of our Volunteer Information Sessions. These are offered quarterly and focus on Garden staff detailing their needs for volunteer participation. Please note: Some of our volunteer opportunities are filled to capacity and not always readily available to new volunteers. Open assignments will be highlighted in the Volunteer Information Session you attend.

Examples of possible assignments include:
Public Events
Propagation & Horticulture projects
Docent Training Program
Membership Sales
Garden Beautification
Gift Shop
Admissions (Welcome Center)
Education: Leading tours for schoolchildren and/or adults

2. Complete an application and background check. We conduct background checks for all volunteers and staff. A cleared background check is required for volunteering at the Garden. Please thoroughly complete both forms of our application process and email, mail, or bring them to the Administration Offices, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please bring your current photo ID. Emails may be sent to Jill Gardner, Manager of Volunteer Services and HR, at jgardner@sdbgarden.org.


1. Volunteer Application

2. Authorization for Background Check

We welcome volunteers aged 14 – 17; they may volunteer with a parent or guardian. San Diego Botanic Garden does not accept court-ordered volunteers.

3. Attend a Volunteer Orientation. After you have decided to volunteer at the Garden, and completed your application, you are required to attend the Volunteer Orientation. These are offered quarterly.

Orientations are designed for volunteers who are making a commitment to the Garden, thereby offering a deeper dive into the Garden’s protocols, policies and priorities – and how they apply to volunteers. To better equip you as a volunteer, we discuss such topics as safety, guest service, training and Garden communications. Orientation also includes a short Garden tour by our Director of Horticulture.

If attending our Docent Training course is your goal, please find information and additional requirements on the Docent training Program page.

Volunteer Meetings

Everyone is welcome! The Volunteer/Docent meetings start at 9:30 a.m. in the Ecke building on the first Wednesday of the month, except June and November when they begin at 10:00 a.m. and are potluck. There is no meeting in July and December. Normally, there is a special presentation beginning at 11:00 a.m., after the general business and announcements have concluded. These meetings are typically standing room only – and definitely not of the stuffy variety!

For additional information or questions pertaining to volunteering, please contact Jill Gardner, Volunteer Services & HR Manager. She can be reached at 760/ 436-3036 x219 or jgardner@sdbgarden.org.

If you are interested in our Docent Program (training and opportunities), please visit our Docent Program page for more information! Click here.