Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Become a Phipps Volunteer

Phipps is well known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiatives, and compelling community education and outreach programs, but what many people may not realize is that none of these activities would be possible without the contributions of our dedicated volunteers—people just like you who share their passion, talents and expertise to help us carry out our work every single day.

If you, too, possess a strong interest in lending a hand at Phipps, a volunteer position in one of our many program areas may be the perfect fit for you. Whether you are helping out at a special event or in our greenhouses, volunteering with us is not only a great way to meet likeminded people, but it also provides a unique opportunity for you to advance the mission of one of Pittsburgh's most beloved local resources and landmarks.

Ready to share your special skills to help Phipps continue our tradition of excellence? Please take the first step today by filling out an application form. You can also request a copy by contacting me at the email or phone number below.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Natalie Mundie
Volunteer Coordinator
412/622-6915, ext. 6958

Phipps Mission Statement

To inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse.

Volunteer Mission Statement

To empower all volunteers to contribute to the mission of Phipps while providing a rewarding and engaging experience in an environment that values and appreciates their contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the time commitment to become a volunteer?
A: Volunteers are asked to commit at least three hours per week twice a month, or approximately 80 hours a year.

Q: Do I need any special skills or training to volunteer at Phipps?
A: Most volunteer opportunities entail on-the-job training. Those interested in becoming docents will be required to attend a multi-week training program. Master Gardeners are also required to go through an intensive training program prior to assignment.

Q: Do I need to bring any special tools or equipment?
A: All volunteers and staff are required to wear closed-toe shoes. Volunteers who work in our outdoor gardens, Production Greenhouses and indoor display spaces should bring their own gloves and water bottles. All other tools are provided.

Q: Where do I park while volunteering?
A: Conservatory volunteers may park in the Phipps staff parking lot during their shifts.

Q: How do I become a volunteer at Phipps?
A: The first step is to fill out an application. We strive to ensure that newly accepted volunteers are placed in assignments that match their skills, interests and abilities. In order to meet this goal, all new volunteers will be asked to participate in an interview, orientation and placement meeting with the volunteer coordinator.

Volunteer Opportunities

Discovery Program Volunteers

Discovery volunteers help engage guests of all ages, with a particular focus on children, through hands-on learning stations located throughout the Conservatory, including the Discovery and Edible Gardens. Discovery volunteers interact with guests to enrich and enhance their visits, as well as to answer general questions. This is an opportunity to help all guests learn more about Phipps' mission, gardens and current shows.


  • Must enjoy interacting with the public, including families and children

Conservatory Docent and Host/Hostess

Docents provide guided tours of Phipps and, while serving as a resource for all age groups, may be asked to emphasize certain aspects of the Conservatory (i.e., Butterfly Forest, the Tropical Forest Conservatory, the Children's Discovery Garden, etc.) Docents may also opt for a 3-hour greeter shift at various locations throughout the Conservatory to greet and engage guests, answer any questions they may have, and point out plants or other features of special or seasonal interest.


  • Must enjoy interacting with the public, including various age groups
  • Participation in a multi-week training program that costs $65—$25 of which is returned upon completion of 50 volunteer hours within six months

Sustainability Docent

Sustainability docents give tours that introduce visitors to Phipps' sustainability initiatives and programs, as well as our green buildings and landscapes, including the Welcome Center, Tropical Forest Conservatory, Production Greenhouses, Special Events Hall, and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.


  • Interest in sustainability as it relates to building design, operation and maintenance, and Phipps programs and initiatives
  • Participation in a multi-week training program
  • Must enjoy interacting with the public, including various age groups

Summer Camp

We are seeking individuals to assist with Phipps summer camps for children ages 2-12 from June through August. Duties include designing and preparing craft activities; interacting with children; assisting Phipps' instructors during camps; and helping clean up after all daily activities. Camp themes change each year, but all focus on connecting children to nature, science and healthy living in fun, participatory ways.


  • Must enjoy working with children and be able to obtain Act 33/34 Clearances (fees for obtaining these clearances will be reimbursed by Phipps)

Garden Railroad

Volunteers are needed to help install and supervise Garden Railroad from September through March, and to interact with guests who visit the display. Duties include assembling and setting up trains and buildings; staffing stations and ensuring that the Railroad is operating properly during public hours; pruning yellow leaves and overgrown plants; answering guests' questions; and providing background information on the exhibit.


  • Training is provided but some knowledge about, and interest in, the operation of model railroads is helpful


Volunteers are needed to greet guests and direct them to admissions and other amenities as they enter the Welcome Center. Other duties include helping answer general questions about Phipps and the surrounding areas; and engaging guests in conversations about sustainability while providing green points of interest.


  • Must be outgoing and friendly, and have an interest in Phipps' history and sustainability initiatives
  • Some standing is required

Horticulture Volunteers

Volunteers are needed to help create and maintain our beautiful gardens and exhibits.


Under the guidance of Phipps staff, volunteers in our Production Greenhouses carry out duties, including but not limited to seeding, planting, potting, pruning, and weeding.


  • Some standing and manual dexterity is required
  • The greenhouses and headhouse can get hot, so volunteers must be able to tolerate warmer temperatures

Outdoor Gardens

Under the guidance of Phipps staff, volunteers in our Outdoor Gardens help plant and maintain natural areas by weeding, pruning, raking, watering, planting, and mulching.


  • On-the-job training is provided, but some gardening experience is helpful
  • Must be able to perform physical activities, and stoop, kneel, lift, and carry objects of varying weight

Indoor Display

Volunteers are needed to work with staff in the Horticulture Department on the maintenance of various display areas. Duties include removing yellow leaves and old flowers from plants; keeping the floor free of debris; and mulching and trimming. Other tasks may include pruning, planting and removing plants as needed.


  • On-the-job training is provided, but some gardening experience is helpful
  • Must be able to work and maneuver among dense plantings, bend over repeatedly, and use a wheelbarrow loaded with mulch
  • Must be able to perform physical activities, and stoop, kneel, lift, and carry objects of varying weight

Master Gardener

Master Gardeners assist Phipps with a broad array of horticulture-related projects and activities at the Conservatory and Garden Center. Duties may include:


  • Answering Dr. Phipps' GreenLine questions on the phone, by email or in person on Saturdays at the Phipps Garden Center or during special events
  • Presenting horticultural information to the public
  • Representing Phipps at public events
  • Performing garden maintenance at the Conservatory in Schenley Park or at the Garden Center in Mellon Park
  • Writing horticultural and environmental articles for newsletters, etc.
  • Teaching classes
  • Working in the greenhouses or indoor displays at the Conservatory


Once accepted, applicants participate in an intensive 23-week training program. Upon successful completion of all classes, the final test and a required number of volunteer hours, program participants are considered to be Master Gardeners when volunteering in such a capacity at Phipps. The fee is $230.

Special Events

Volunteers are needed to assist with various tasks related to festivals and special events at the Conservatory and the Garden Center. These events occur around holidays and throughout the year. Events change from year to year, but may include:

  • Arbor Day/Earth Day Celebration
  • Discovery Garden Day
  • Fall Round-Up
  • Family Fun Days
  • Garden Railroad
  • Great Plant Auction
  • Halloween Happenings
  • Holiday Tea and Greens Sale
  • May Market
  • Member Events
  • New Year's Eve Celebration
  • Summer Camps
  • Used Bulb Sale
  • Galas

Phipps Volunteer Coordinator

Natalie Mundie
Phone: 412/622-6915, ext. 6958

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3830
Phone: 412/622-6914
Fax: 412/622-7363

Join Us Today

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The first step in the process is for you to complete an application. Next, I will be in touch to set up a meeting with you to discuss the different opportunities we have available.

I really look forward to hearing from you!


Natalie Mundie
Volunteer Coordinator