Nature Needs You – Join our Volunteers!
If you enjoy being outdoors or sharing your love of nature with others, consider joining the volunteers at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Our volunteers benefit from the training that’s provided – whether it’s learning new skills for your volunteer job or expanding your knowledge of the natural history of our area.
Training can be done “on-the-job” for some volunteer positions, while others require attending a training session and possibly “shadowing” staff or an experienced volunteer. Opportunities are available both weekends and weekdays.
There are five categories of volunteer opportunities. To see the different volunteer jobs available please click the categories below:
- Volunteer administrative
Do you enjoy working “behind the scenes”? Do you enjoy maintaining and researching contact lists and computer data entry? This is an important on-going and on-site opportunity. Basic computer skills & Excel are required.Flexible schedule.
- Front Desk/Nature Shop
Meet and greet people from all over the world! Our Volunteers help introduce visitors to the Arboretum’s services, programs and policies, answer the phone and refer calls as needed, as well as assist customers in the Nature Shop and assisting the Nature Shop Manager with merchandise, as needed. Training required in Quick Book Point-of-Sales. Year-round; Weekdays, 9—1 pm or 1—5 pm.
- Additional Opportunities
Volunteer services are periodically scheduled to use specific skills and talents as the need arises. For example, volunteers have assisted with the following tasks:
- Special Event preparation
- Staff booth at events/festivals
- Distributing flyers or posters to local businesses, libraries, etc.
Schedules dependent on specific opportunity & will be posted as needed.
Do you enjoy learning about native plants and their important role in our habitat? Come help in our gardens! You will work with our Facilities Manager, Jim Crabb, to help maintain the 2.5 acres of native landscaping including the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden and our various wildlife garden areas. Tasks include weeding, pruning, transplanting, and collecting seed. Learn the secrets of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies with native plants! All personal safety equipment [gloves, etc.] and tools are provided.
Physically Demanding. Year-Round; Wednesdays & Fridays, 9am-12pm.
- Invaders of Texas Plant Survey
HANC wants your help in tracking our efforts to eradicate invasive species from our 155 acre nature sanctuary. On the third Saturday of every month, a group of volunteers will assist us in recording the species, location, and density of invasive plants using a GPS, record sheets, and a camera. Our HANC survey will track the success rate of our removal efforts while adding to a publicly available state wide database. Come and join Trevor and your fellow volunteer adventurers — no previous knowledge of GPS or invasive species is necessary! GPS instrument use and all information will be given prior to the start of each survey!
Physically Demanding. Year-round. 3rd Saturday of the month 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Conservation Volunteer
Get instant satisfaction and a good workout! Volunteers work with our Facilities Manager and Conservationists in maintaining our 5+ mile trail system and 155 acres of sanctuary grounds. Mulching, weeding, pruning, planting and repairing or replacing boardwalks are ongoing tasks. Focus is on improving the ecological health of our urban sanctuary. All personal safety equipment [gloves, etc.] and tools are provided. Learn names of plants, proper gardening techniques, and enjoy a good day’s work!
Physically Demanding. Year-Round; Thursdays, & the 1st and 2nd Saturdays, 9am-12pm.
- Bird Count
Are you a birding enthusiast? HANC has historically gathered documentation of the observed bird species here. Come join our Conservationist, Theo Ostler, for a monthly bird count. You do not need to be an expert in bird identification, just bring our interest and enthusiasm & a pair of binoculars [we will provide if you don’t have your own]! All forms, etc. will be provided.
Physically demanding. Year-round; 3rd Saturday of the month 8 am – 10 am
- Discovery Room
Do you enjoy sharing the many wonders of the Arboretum? When not in use for school/scout groups, the Discovery Room is open to the general public. Interactive exhibits provide realistic information about our forest, pond, wetland, and grassland habitats. Microscopes, field books, changing exhibits, and other resources help visitors learn more about the plant and wildlife communities of our nature sanctuary. Volunteers assist the public by facilitating exploration of the Discovery Room to teach families about the natural history of our area and answering their questions.
Training required. Year-Round; weekdays (excluding Mondays) 9:30am-1pm & 1pm-4pm; weekends 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, & 2pm-4pm.
- Home School
This program gives Home School kids, ages 5 through 12 years, the opportunity to learn about the world of science at our nature sanctuary. Two classes are organized by ages 5-8 years old and 9-12 years old. A different 3-week science unit is taught each month. Each class consists of instructional time, hands-on activities and guided nature walks. Volunteers work with staff naturalist as teaching assistants in the classroom and as a chaperone on the nature walk.
September- May; three Mondays per month 1pm-3pm.
- Naturalist Explorers
HANC offers a 2-hour class one Saturday a month on a variety of nature topics for children ages 5 to 8. You will assist our staff naturalists in using hands-on outdoor activities and crafts to enhance learning and demonstrate natural science concepts to these students. Each class covers an aspect of the overall theme.
September- May; one Saturday per month, 9am-11am & 1pm-3pm.
- Naturally Wild Families
This family focused program explores HANC though field experiences, outdoor activities, and nature, art, and a little craftiness for all ages 6 and up with a parent or other adult partner. Volunteers will assist our staff naturalists with helping families learn new skills, and ways to get outside, be healthier, happier, and smarter. Each class will cover a different nature topic.
Various Saturdays; 1pm-3pm.
- School Tour Guides
“Guided field experiences” are offered for grades K-12 and are tailored to address the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for science mandated by the Texas Education Agency. Many thousands of students experience nature first hand through these 90 minute ecosystem class and tours through our Nature Center. Many of these students will also explore the Discovery Room with staff and volunteer guidance on their visit. The student groups are kept to a maximum of 10 children, with at least 1 chaperone per group. Volunteers are trained on particular topics for each grade level.
Training required. September- May; Tuesday- Friday, 9:30am-11am & 11:30am-1pm shifts.
Help our naturalists lead Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in earning some or all of their requirements for a badge or achievement. In our Mini-Badge workshops, the scouts investigate the nature sanctuary with a naturalist and learn about our fascinating ecology. All of our scout programs use our grounds as a field laboratory for hands-on exploration! Volunteers may assist with one hour Forest Treks available daily [scheduled], or our 2-3 hour Mini-Badge workshops available on weekends.
Year-Round; Daily [1 hour TBA]/ Saturday & Sunday 2-3 hours [as scheduled].
- Tadpole Troopers
This program is a nature class for parents and children to share together. Classes are targeted for children ages 3 to 5 and are offered at 3 times on the first Saturday of every month. Volunteers will assist our naturalist in various activities and help with a guided walk. Each class is centered on a specific topic.
Sept. – May; 1st Saturday of every month, 9-10:15am, 11-12:15pm, or 1-2:15pm
- Tyke Hikes
This program engages our youngest learners! Toddlers, aged 18 months to 3 years, with an adult, enjoy story time and a stroller-friendly hike offered at 2 times on Monday mornings. Our volunteers help guide parents and tykes along the trails, answer questions and engage the participants about a different nature topic each week.
September- May; Monday, 9am and 10am.
For more information, contact the Volunteer Programs Manager, Lynne Hester, at 713-366-0375.
- Discovery Camp Assistants
Volunteers help naturalists with nature camp classes for children ages 5 to 12 years, which are scheduled during school breaks: Summer and Spring Break. Volunteers assist in the classroom with crafts and activities as well as guiding outdoor walks and activities.
March & June-August; weekdays, 8:30am-3:30pm
- Native Plant Sale
Our Native Plant Sales are held seasonally to showcase native species that offer lower maintenance and benefit our wildlife. You do not need to be a Master Gardner to assist us; come learn and share your love of native plants with visitors! We need volunteers to meet & greet, mingle with visitors to answer questions about the plants using the Plant Profile Booklets, assist with the check-out process and load purchased plants and mulch into their vehicles. Your help is also needed in Pre-Sale set up.
October, December, March; Morning [8:30am-12:30pm] & Afternoon [12pm-4pm] shifts.
- Discovery Camp Assistants
- Special Events
- HANC celebrates:
- Arbor Day: Our focus is to educate visitors about the benefits trees provide to both man and wildlife. Tree planting is encouraged as tree seedlings are given away to visitors.
- Earth Day: This event offers activities and information on recycling using earth-friendly products and providing habitat for wildlife in urban landscapes. [Saturday prior to Earth Day] 10am-2pm.
- ArBOOretum: This is our biggest family fall event! It is a fun day for families to enjoy trick-or-treating in the forest to learn about nocturnal wildlife and enjoy many activities in our sanctuary. Volunteers are needed for the many activities; assist staff and booths, refreshments, face-painting, and much more. [Saturday prior to Halloween] 10-5pm.
- HANC celebrates:
- Night Adventures & Hikes
The Arboretum at Night offers special opportunities to explore our trails and see our wildlife! Naturalists and volunteers help guide participants through the sanctuary grounds in the evening. Wildlife professionals, rehabilitators or naturalists will usually conduct a presentation prior to or at some point in the hike.
Year-Round. Usually Saturdays, times dependent on program TBA.
- Open House
Serve as our ambassadors in a variety of activities, festivals and crafts to celebrate a particular nature/environment topic throughout the year. These are one-day, open house events that require many volunteers to assist staff in activities, booths and support.