The late Walt Helmerich, a passionate giver of his time, talent and fortune to Tulsa-area nonprofit groups, remarked as we watched volunteers lead children through the Linnaeus Teaching Garden in Woodward Park: “You know,” he said, “you would be hard pressed to hire folks with that level of pride and enthusiasm.”
Walt loved the beauty and serenity of the garden, but it was the friendly, can-do spirit of the garden’s 300-plus Linnaeus volunteers who captured his heart. I feel the same way. There would, in fact, be no Linnaeus Teaching Garden without volunteers. The garden literally was designed with volunteers in mind.
The guiding principal of the Linnaeus Volunteer Program is simply: operate the garden as a horticulture classroom to teach, motivate and inspire children, adults and seniors regarding the beauty and value of nature.
If, therefore, you are interested in an amazing volunteer experience, consider the Linnaeus Volunteer Program. Volunteer training is offered once each year in the fall and consists of 13 weekly sessions.
Training topics include garden design, water gardening, butterfly gardening, soil fertility, fruit and veggie gardening, perennial and herb gardening, tree and shrub selection, insect and disease control, lawn care, basic botany and much more.
With the help of talented horticulturists and leaders from the nation’s horticulture industries, we teach volunteers how to become great gardeners and how to effectively share their love of gardening with the public. Good news! You need not be an experienced gardener before joining the Linnaeus Volunteer Program. Linnaeus training transforms the brownest thumb into an emerald green thumb. Here’s more good news: Linnaeus training is fun! Trainees invariably make lots of new friends and hate to see fall training end.
Much of the training (lectures) takes place in the new and beautiful Helmerich Horticulture Classroom on the Linnaeus garden grounds. But there is also lots of hands-on training in the gorgeous teaching garden.
Linnaeus volunteer activities include:
• Leading tours through the garden.
• Helping with youth activities, such as our popular “Little Green Thumbs” and “Story Time in the Garden.”
• Helping maintain the teaching garden, a team effort involving several hundred volunteers.
• Helping teach garden classes and seminars.
• Speaking to garden clubs and civic groups.
• Evaluating new plant introductions.
• Helping maintain our Linnaeus website.
• Helping staff the Linnaeus Visitor Center.
There are many other ways to volunteer at the Linnaeus Teaching Garden. Volunteers select service opportunities that best suit their personalities and interests.
How to become a Linnaeus garden volunteer:
Attend the free Linnaeus orientation set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, in the Helmerich Horticulture Classroom on the grounds of the Linnaeus garden. The garden is in the southeast corner of Woodward Park, 21st Street and Peoria Avenue. I will present a colorful PowerPoint presentation explaining what it’s like to go through Linnaeus training and what it’s like to volunteer at the garden.
Orientation will take about one hour. A garden reception, with light refreshments, will follow orientation. Attend orientation and learn more about the Linnaeus Teaching Garden, the magnificent garden jewel in Woodward Park.
For more information, call 918-576-5152 or visit our website at linnaeusteachinggarden.org.
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Barry Fugatt is director of horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center and Linnaeus Teaching Garden in Woodward Park. He can be reached at 918.576.5152, or email firstname.lastname@example.org