Volunteer Opportunities

Thanks for your interest in volunteering at the Zilker Botanical Garden. ZBG would not exist without the ongoing support, talent, and time of our volunteers, docents, and groups. Our volunteers are a crucial part of the Garden, helping our horticulture staff maintain and improve our gardens, assisting with events, exhibits, and they lead our school programs. There is no limit to the impact you could have at Zilker Botanical Garden as a volunteer. Volunteering at ZBG is also a fantastic way for you to meet new people, learn more about nature and horticulture, and have a great time exploring one of Austin’s most beloved places.

Choose from the list below that best suits your interests.

I’m interested in horticulture and volunteering in the garden

I’m interested in becoming a docent and volunteering with ZBG’s educational programs

I’m interested in volunteering with the cultural and arts programs at the Garden

I’m interested in setting up a volunteer opportunity for my organization

I’m ready to fill out the volunteer form.


I’m interested in horticulture and volunteering in the Garden

What kinds of volunteer opportunities are there in the horticulture program?

  • Volunteers with the Horticulture Program work side-by-side with the ZBG Gardeners on a variety of tasks. These include, but are not limited to: weeding, grooming, mulching, planting, and watering.
  • We do our best to inform everyone what kinds of activities each volunteer opportunity will include, but sometimes have to change focus (due to weather, attendance, or other factors).
  • ZBG will provide all necessary tools and materials.
  • Currently, we are offering 2-3 volunteer opportunities a week, but will likely expand in the future.

Are there any training requirements to volunteer with the horticulture program at the garden?

  • Training is not required to get started, but we will be offering orientations and trainings throughout the year

Do I need to pass a criminal background investigation?

  • If you are planning on volunteering in this capacity on a monthly basis or more frequently, you will need to be able to pass a criminal background investigation.

How old do i have to be to volunteer with the horticulture program?

  • 14 years old or older. Volunteers under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

How can I volunteer to be part of the horticulture program?

  • First, make sure to fill out a volunteer application and create an account on GivePulse, so you can get on our communications list.
  • Then, when an opportunity comes up, make sure to register for the particular shift and type of activity on GivePulse.
  • Merrideth Jiles is the point of contact for these volunteers and can help answer any questions you may have.

I’m interested in becoming a docent and volunteering with ZBG’s educational programs

What is a docent?

  • A docent is a specially trained volunteer who facilitates garden explorations and activities for students of all ages and their families. Most of these garden explorations are 90- to 120-minute tours and activities that occur in the morning on Monday through Friday. 
  • Docents are trained in the various types of curricula that Zilker Botanical Garden provides for its school groups and adult tours, and together develop expertise in various areas of ZBG’s plant palette. 
  • Docents are the heart of the educational program at Zilker Botanical Garden and their support and engagement benefits thousands of visitors on an annual basis, from schoolchildren in the Austin area to adults traveling to the Garden from all over the world! 

What are the responsibilities and requirements for being a docent? 

  • Give three hours of volunteer service per month with the docent program or with a different volunteer program at ZBG (Horticulture or Programs and Events)
  • Participate in three school programs per year
  • Completion of the New Docent Training Program, which includes a total of six hours of training and accompanying an experienced docent on 1-3 garden explorations as a trainee. The Training program is typically only offered in February. 
  • Attendance at a minimum of three docent training sessions per year, one of which must be either the New Docent Garden Exploration Training or New Docent Garden Exploration Lead
  • Ability to successfully complete a criminal background investigation 
  • Ability to register and use the online GivePulse volunteer system after training
  • Ability to communicate effectively with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Have reached 18 years of age
  • Willingness to spend time outdoors in the Garden
  • Reliability, punctuality, and flexibility with schedules and last minute changes

What are the benefits of being a docent?

  • The personal fulfillment that comes from providing an indispensable service to the cause of conservation, education and plants!
  • Individual ZBG Membership for the year following completion of docent requirements
  • 15% Discount at ZBG gift shop
  • There is no fee for becoming a docent! ZBG pays for continuing adult education workshops, garden explorations, and other trainings covering everything in the wide world of plants
  • Invitation to Volunteer Recognition Events

How old do I have to be to docent?

  • 18 years old or older.

Still Interested? 

Make sure to fill out a volunteer application and share your interest in becoming a docent with us! We’re always looking for new team members to join us!


I’m interested in volunteering with the cultural and arts programs at the Garden

What are the cultural and arts programs at Zilker Botanical Garden? 

  • Part of Zilker Botanical Garden’s mission involves helping educate the public about gardening and horticulture, as well as providing alternative and exciting ways for visitors to engage with ZBG as a community resource. 
  • Cultural and arts programs at Zilker Botanical Garden can include large scale events, such as our annual Dinosaur Day in the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, long term exhibits such as the annual Woodland Faerie Trail, our online programming, or interpretation shared throughout the Garden.

What kinds of volunteer opportunities are there in the cultural and arts programs?

  • There are a variety of cultural and arts program volunteer opportunities. Some of these are ongoing, like the work they do in creating plant ID tags for the Garden, while others are focused on specific events and only come around annually. A monthly newsletter sharing upcoming volunteer opportunities is shared with people interested in volunteering at the Garden, and all information about volunteer programs is shared on GivePulse. Make sure to create an account and join us there if you are interested in volunteering with us!

Are there any training requirements to volunteer with the cultural and arts programs at the Garden?

  • Typically, no. If you hear of an opportunity through the newsletter or GivePulse, and join up, training will be offered in the half hour or so before the event begins, so make sure to arrive for your shift on time to catch any instructions you need to be successful that day.

Do I need to pass a criminal background investigation? 

  • If you are planning on volunteering in this capacity on a monthly basis or more frequently, you will need to be able to pass a criminal background investigation. 

How old do I have to be to volunteer with the cultural and arts programs? 

  • 14 years old or older. Volunteers under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult. 

How can I volunteer to be part of the cultural and arts programs?

  • First, make sure to fill out a volunteer application and create an account on GivePulse, so you can get on our communications list. 
  • Then, when an opportunity comes up, make sure to register for the particular shift and type of activity on GivePulse. 
  • Michael DeWhatley is the point of contact for these volunteers and can help answer any questions you may have.  

I’m interested in setting up a volunteer opportunity for my organization

How can my group get involved and give back to the community and zilker botanical garden?

  • Zilker Botanical Garden is glad to offer opportunities for groups to come and work together here at the Garden.
  • Opportunities can be working on the grounds with our Horticulture Program or with our Cultural Arts & Education Program.
  • Group Volunteer Events are usually scheduled in 3 hour blocks, generally, 9am-12pm (but we can discuss variations).
  • Our Horticulture Program has a limit of 25 people per Event, but we can create multiple events for large groups.
  • Our Cultural Arts & Education Program has various limits depending on the size of an Event, but generally limits groups to 20 people.
  • All participants will receive free admission to the Garden for the event.
  • Picnic tables are available for meals before or after the event.

Are there any training requirements for my group to volunteer at the garden?

  • No, all activities will be structured so that simple instructions at the beginning will be all that is needed.

Do i need to pass a criminal background investigation?

  • For one time volunteer events, no CBI is required.

How old do I have to be to volunteer with the horticulture program?

  • 14 years old or older. Volunteers under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult (min 1 adult per 3 children).

How can I register my group to volunteer?

  • Merrideth Jiles is the point of contact for these events and can help answer any questions you may have.
  • On your initial communication, please indicate the following: Size and approximate age range of your participants, any areas of particular interest, and 2-3 possible dates.
  • Group Volunteer Events are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Size restrictions and date restrictions are set on groups due to limits in tool inventory, parking, and other factors.

Volunteer Application