Floracliff volunteers are part of a growing group of stewards and ambassadors for the sanctuary. They are a vital force toward accomplishing our restoration goals; sharing information about the biodiversity, natural history, and cultural history of the sanctuary; expanding Floracliff’s role in local and global community science projects; maintaining our trails, facilities, and infrastructure; and so much more. By visiting Floracliff most weeks throughout the year, our dedicated volunteers come to know the unique features of the sanctuary, and experience them through all seasons.
COVID-19 and Floracliff Volunteering (Updated November 1, 2021): Floracliff staff is fully vaccinated. In order to maintain a safe and healthy environment in which we are able to continue to offer regular volunteering opportunities, we highly encourage all volunteers to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are eligible. COVID-19 vaccines are widely accessible in the United States and available for everyone at no cost.
Volunteer Commitment and Training
Floracliff depends on a regular group of dedicated volunteers who commit to participating in volunteer opportunities at least twice each month. We offer New Volunteer Orientations twice annually–in March and September–as well as ongoing training for committed volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering at Floracliff at least twice monthly, please read more about the volunteer opportunities below. Email us at email@example.com to let us know your area of interest and to register for the next available New Volunteer Orientation.
Occasional Volunteer Workdays
Volunteers who are unable to commit to regular volunteering during weekday mornings and afternoons may be contacted for occasional workdays on weekends or evenings throughout the year. Activity-specific training is offered during the opportunity, and no formal New Volunteer Orientation is required to participate in these workdays. To receive email updates about these opportunities, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Conservation Steward
Habitat Restoration – Habitat Restoration Volunteers work on the seasonal management of invasive plants in forest and grassland habitats. Hand tools (loppers and handsaws) are used to cut woody shrubs like Amur honeysuckle. These volunteers responsibly apply herbicide to cut stumps and must acquire and maintain a pesticide applicator’s license (sponsored by Floracliff). Habitat Restoration Volunteers also hand-pull invasive plants, including garlic mustard, wintercreeper and Japanese stiltgrass; no pesticide license required. Wednesday mornings.
Garden Stewardship – Garden Stewardship Volunteers maintain the glade and/or woodland demonstration gardens by the Nature Center and Trail’s End Lodge. The glade demonstration garden includes prickly pear cactus and other forbs planted in thin, rocky soils interspersed with limestone rocks. This garden needs to be weeded throughout the growing season. The Trail’s End Garden is mostly a shade garden with transplanted wildflowers and shrubs. This garden requires periodic weeding and mulching. Weekdays, time variable.
Volunteer Grounds Steward
Trail Restoration – Trail Restoration Volunteers maintain Floracliff’s entire trail system using hand tools (loppers, handsaws, cross-cut saws, mattocks) as well as string-trimmers. Stone steps and water bars may be installed to improve visitor experience and reduce impact to the surrounding environment. As needed, new trails may be added or current trails rerouted. A pesticide applicator’s license is not required for Trail Restoration Volunteers, but does increase the effectiveness and efficiency of restoration efforts. Wednesday mornings.
Facilities/Infrastructure Maintenance & Improvement – The Floracliff grounds includes multiple structures – the Nature Center, the Trail’s End Lodge, tool sheds, a historic cabin, and a barn. Occasional maintenance and improvement projects in and around these structures may be scheduled based on volunteer experience. Other sanctuary infrastructure that needs periodic maintenance, improvement or vegetation clearing includes a 1/3-mile paved driveway, a gravel driveway and parking lot, chain link fences and gates along a roadway, and the boundary around the entire sanctuary. Maintenance and improvement projects for these areas are ongoing and scheduled as needed. Wednesday mornings.
Community Science – Community Science Volunteers contribute to various local and global community science projects at Floracliff. This includes, but is not limited to eBird, iNaturalist, winter and spring stream samples, a summer butterfly count, TreeSnap, and species inventories. Photo-documentation of species is a very useful component of community science, especially for iNaturalist. Community Science Volunteers must be willing to learn about and participate in the community science project(s) of their choosing. This includes the associated apps or websites as well as the activities involved with documenting the target species. Some training of programs and apps will be provided by Floracliff staff, but volunteers will be expected to continue community science participation independently for some projects. Learn more about our current Community Science Projects. Day/time variable.
Program Assistance – Floracliff hosts dozens of guided hikes each year. These hikes include programs on a variety of natural history topics, programs for K-12 or university school groups, and private tours. Many guided hikes require a Hike Sweeper in addition to a Hike Leader. The role of the Hike Sweeper is to serve as an ambassador for Floracliff, be the last person on the hike so no one is left behind, answer questions to the best of their ability, and help point out features the Hike Leader may be discussing. Some programs require additional assistance by Species Scouters. Species Scouters help find a program’s target species, such as amphibians, reptiles, birds, aquatic species, etc. Sweepers and Scouters are encouraged to photograph hike leaders, visitors, and program activities for future use in outreach materials. Program photography may also be assigned to designated Program Photographers. Day/time variable.
Program Lead – To strengthen and diversify Floracliff’s educational programs, we rely on community partners and volunteers who contribute their time and expertise on natural and cultural history topics. Volunteer Educators should be able to develop an organized program, be prepared to speak about their topic, be comfortable with public speaking, and represent Floracliff in a professional manner. Day/time variable.
General non-technical guided hikes: Floracliff offers non-technical general public hikes and receives multiple requests throughout the year for private tours from community residents and groups. These hikes provide an overview of Floracliff’s organizational and natural history and typically visit popular features of the sanctuary. Volunteers interested in leading general non-technical guided hikes will be trained by Floracliff staff and given the opportunity to practice.
Topic-specific natural history hikes: These hikes and programs are offered for a general public audience to provide education and appreciation of our region’s plants, animals, fungi, ecology, and geology in the natural environment. Volunteer Educators may submit a program title, program description, and brief bio to the Preserve Director for consideration. Research and preparation for these hikes and programs must be self-guided.
Virtual Programs: Virtual program offerings and needs are increasing at Floracliff, particularly for live educational webinars on natural and cultural history topics. Volunteer Educators interested in presenting webinars must own and be comfortable with the required technology. Webinar titles, descriptions, and a brief bio may be sent to the Preserve Director for consideration. Recordings of past webinars are available to use as a reference.
Youth Programs: Floracliff occasionally hosts programs specifically for youth groups, or will provide youth programs by special request. These programs often require additional program leads and assistants. Volunteers working with youth groups should have prior experience with youth. Youth program volunteers should also be open to background checks.
Special Events and Projects
There are a variety of special events and projects that require volunteer assistance. These may be scheduled for single-day volunteer groups or on an as-needed basis. Special projects may include: litter clean-up, painting, and newsletter packaging. Special events may require help with parking, hosting visitors, food preparation, photography, and clean-up before and after events.