Note: All indoor horticulture volunteer positions are currently full. We will begin excepting applications for seasonal outdoor volunteers in March. We are currently accepting applications for Conservatory docents, sustainability docents, Discovery volunteers, science education volunteers, and special events volunteers.

Phipps is well-known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiatives, informative educational programs and community outreach. None of our work, however, would be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers.

Volunteering at Phipps is a great way to meet other people with similar interests, while making important contributions to a unique local resource. Volunteers enable us to fulfill our mission by providing assistance in all of our many program areas. Ready to share your skills to help Phipps continue our tradition of excellence? Take the first step now by filling out our application. You can also request a hard copy by contacting sbertovich@phipps.conservatory.org.

Download Application (PDF) 

Download Application (DOC)

Volunteer Mission Statement
To empower volunteers to contribute to the mission of Phipps while providing a rewarding and engaging experience in an environment where all contributions are valued and appreciated.

Q: How do I become a volunteer at Phipps?
A: The first step is to fill out an application. Because we strive to ensure that volunteers are placed in positions that best match their skills, interests and abilities, all accepted applicants are required to participate in an interview, orientation and placement meeting. Phipps’ volunteer application is available here. You can also request a hard copy by calling 412/622-6915, ext. 6958 or sending an email to vol@phipps.conservatory.org.

Q: How often do I need to volunteer?
A: A minimum of three hours per week at least two times a month, or approximately 80 hours a year.

Q: Do I need to have any special skills or training?
A: On the job training is provided for most positions. Docents are required to attend a multi-week training program, while Master Gardeners must complete an intensive 23-week training program.

Q: Do I need to bring any tools or equipment?
A: All volunteers are required to wear closed-toe shoes and are strongly encouraged to carry a reusable water bottle. Volunteers who work with our horticulture department should bring their own gloves. Other equipment and all tools are provided.

Q: Where can I park while volunteering?
A: Volunteers may park in Phipps’ staff parking lots during their shifts.

Q: What opportunities do you have for groups?
A: Occasionally, throughout the year and during special events, we are able to accommodate groups for a one-time volunteer experience. Please contact our volunteer coordinator to learn more.

Volunteer Opportunities

 

Teen Volunteers (Ages 16 – 18)

Summer Camp Teen Volunteers
The Summer Camp Teen Volunteer program offers teens ages 16 – 18 the opportunity to gain valuable experience in environmental education while assisting with our week-long science education camps for elementary school students. Volunteers will support classroom facilitators by helping with nature-based activites, crafts, walks through the conservatory, and camp set up/clean up. Volunteers will work with ages 4 – 6 in a unique setting while gaining valuable experience in the classroom and in the Conservatory. To apply, please fill out a Teen Volunteer Application and send the completed form to vol@phipps.conservatory.org by Fri., May 19.
Requirements: Applicants must be 16 years of age before the application deadline to be considered. All teen volunteers are required to obtain background check clearances prior to start. This application should be completed by the applicant and signed by a parent/legal guardian. All applications are due by Fri., May 19. 

Discovery Program Teen Volunteers
Discovery volunteers engage visitors of all ages, particularly children, through hands-on learning stations located throughout the Conservatory, including the Discovery and Edible Gardens. They interact with guests to enhance visits and answer general questions. To apply, please fill out a Teen Volunteer Application and send the completed form to vol@phipps.conservatory.org by Fri., May 19.
Requirements: Applicants must enjoy working with the public and be 16 years of age before the application deadline to be considered. All teen volunteers are required to obtain background check clearances prior to start. This application should be completed by the applicant and signed by a parent/legal guardian. All applications are due by Fri., May 19.
 

ADULT VOLUNTEERS (AGES 18 and older)

Garden Guides
Garden Guides are enthusiastic volunteers who lead tours of the conservatory for children grades K – 5 in conjunction with our science education programs.  This new training will focus specifically on how to best connect our young visitors to Phipps and make the Conservatory accessible to a younger audience. Come learn from conservatory staff and seasoned docents!  Upon completion of training, all Garden Guides will be able to lead tours for grades K – 5. If you are interested, please fill out a volunteer application or contact Volunteer Coordinator Sophie Stern at sstern@phipps.conservatory.org or 412/622-6915, ext. 6985 for more information. 
Requirements: Must participate in all sessions of a four-part training program which costs $20. Must be able to obtain Act 33 Child Abuse and Act 34 Criminal Record clearances, as well as fingerprinting clearance. 

Conservatory Docents
Conservatory docents lead guided tours for all ages and may be asked to emphasize certain areas of Phipps, such as Butterfly Forest or the Discovery Garden. These volunteers may also take 3-hour stationed docent shifts to greet and engage guests, answer questions, and point out special features. 
Requirements: Must enjoy interacting with the public and participate in a multi-week training program, which costs $65. Partial reimbursement of this program fee will be available upon completion of 50 volunteer hours within six months of training completion.

Sustainability Docents
Sustainability docents give tours highlighting Phipps' green buildings and landscapes — the Welcome Center, Tropical Forest Conservatory, Production Greenhouse, Special Events hall and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes — as well as our many sustainability initiatives and outreach programs. These volunteers may also take 3-hour stationed docent shifts to greet and engage guests and answer questions.
Requirements: Must enjoy interacting with the public, have an interest in sustainability and green architecture, and participate in multi-week training program, which costs $35.

Summer Camp Volunteers
Volunteers assist instructors by helping design and prepare crafts, interacting with children ages 2 – 12, and cleaning up after all daily activities for summer camps held June – August. Camp themes change each year, but all focus on connecting children to nature, science and healthy living in fun, participatory ways.
Requirements: Must enjoy working with children and be able to obtain Act 33 Child Abuse and Act 34 Criminal Record clearances (fees will be reimbursed.)

Discovery Program Volunteers
Discovery volunteers engage visitors of all ages, particularly children, through hands-on learning stations located throughout the Conservatory, including the Discovery and Edible Gardens. They interact with guests to enhance visits and answer general questions. To apply, please fill out a Volunteer Application and send the completed form to vol@phipps.conservatory.org by Fri., May 19.
Requirements:All teen volunteers are required to obtain background check clearances prior to start. All applications are due by Fri., May 19.

Greeters
Volunteers greet guests as they enter the Welcome Center and direct them to the gift shop, café, admissions and the Conservatory. They answer general questions about Phipps and the surrounding areas and engage visitors in conversations about sustainability, providing interesting green points to look out for while touring Phipps.
Requirements: Must be outgoing and friendly, with an interest in both the history of Phipps and sustainability, plus be able to stand for up to three hours at a time.

Horticulture Volunteers
Volunteers help create and maintain gardens and exhibits and work in the following areas:

Production
Production work is done under the guidance of Phipps staff and includes seeding, planting, potting, pruning and weeding plants in the greenhouses, plus other tasks.
Requirements: Must be able to stand for longer periods of time, possess manual dexterity and tolerate warmer temperatures.

Outdoor Gardens
Under the guidance of Phipps staff, volunteers help plant and maintain outdoor gardens and engage in tasks such as weeding, pruning, raking, watering, planting and mulching.
Requirements: On the job training is provided but some gardening experience is helpful. Must be able to engage in physical activities, including stooping, kneeling, lifting and carrying objects of varying weights.

Indoor Display
Under the guidance of Phipps staff, volunteers help maintain display areas, removing yellow leaves from plants and the floor, deadheading flowers, mulching and trimming, as well as pruning and planting as needed.
Requirements: On the job training is provided but some gardening experience is helpful. Must be able to work amid dense plantings, bend over repeatedly, wield a wheelbarrow loaded with mulch, and engage in physical activities such as stooping, kneeling, lifting, and carrying objects of varying weights.

Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners assist Phipps with a broad array of horticulture-related projects and activities at the Conservatory and Phipps Garden Center. Upon selection, applicants participate in an intensive two-semester training program, which costs $230, including the cost of the Master Gardener manual. They earn the title of Master Gardener while volunteering in such a capacity for Phipps after completing all classes and required volunteer hours, and successfully passing an exam. Duties and responsibilities may include:

  • Answering Dr. Phipps' GreenLine questions on the phone, by email, or in person 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 Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
  • Writing contributed articles on horticultural or environmental themes
  • Teaching classes

Interested parties may download the 2017 Master Gardener program application to begin the process.

Download Master Gardener Application

Special Events Volunteers
Volunteers assist with various tasks for events held at the Conservatory and Phipps Garden Center throughout the year. Examples of these special occasions are as follows:

  • Discovery Garden Day
  • Fall Round-Up
  • Family Fun Days
  • Garden Railroad
  • Great Plant Auction
  • Halloween Happenings
  • Holiday Tea and Gifts and Greens Market
  • May Market
  • Members-Only Events
  • New Year's Eve Celebration
  • Summer Camps
  • Used Bulb Sales
  • Wines Under Glass

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman