Smithsonian Gardens (SG) is looking for volunteers to assist with the care of its orchid collection. This position involves routine plant care, cleaning, and pest management as directed by collection horticulturists.

Overview

Smithsonian Gardens (SG) is looking for volunteers to assist with the care of its orchid collection. This position involves routine plant care, cleaning, and pest management as directed by collection horticulturists.

Duties include: 

  • Cleaning orchid collection greenhouses and supplies, including sweeping greenhouse floors, washing planting pots, and maintaining clean workspaces.
  • Assisting with plant grooming, and preparing specimens for display (staking, leaf shining, grooming/deadheading, weeding).
  • Scouting for pests inside the greenhouses to record pest populations and notify staff of pest presence.
  • Assisting with ongoing collection digitization projects by selecting plants, preparing them to be photographed, returning the plant to its proper location, and assisting the photographer or horticulture staff with other tasks as needed.

Orchid Collection Volunteers must be willing to follow SG’s Orchid Collection Handling Protocols to maintain collection health and mitigate pathogens. This includes but is not limited to wearing gloves when handling plants and working near a diluted sanitizer solution.

Qualifications and Training

Orchid Collection Volunteers should be able to follow directions and pay attention to detail when performing assigned tasks. Volunteers must be willing to learn and adapt to specific handling procedures for collection plants. Good communication skills are required.

Volunteers must be able to lift 20 pounds, stand for long periods, work in excessive heat at times, and work in humid greenhouses with temperatures as high as 85 degrees. They must also be willing and able to perform monotonous tasks associated with maintaining a living plant collection (watering, repotting, leaf shining, etc.).

Volunteers must complete yearly trainings focused on greenhouse safety and proper collection handling to stay up to date on changes in protocol. This is an internal training provided by Smithsonian Gardens.

COVID safety training is required.

Location

Duties will be performed at the Smithsonian Gardens’ greenhouse complex in Suitland, MD. A Smithsonian shuttle is available from the National Mall to the Smithsonian’s Suitland Campus for volunteers.

Schedule

Orchid Volunteers commit to complete 4-6 hours of service each week between 9 am and 3 pm.

Term

The position requires a minimum 1-year commitment. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and complete a Smithsonian pre-appointment background investigation.

How to Apply

To apply, applicants must register and submit an application online at Smithsonian’s Volunteer Management System (Vsys) at vol.si.edu.

Links to the online application are included in the opportunity’s description. Once you create a profile, you will be able to use the same application to apply for multiple opportunities. If you have a Vsys account, please verify that the information in your account is still up to date and correct. You can log in via vol.si.edu (link)

It is mandatory for all Smithsonian Volunteers to be registered in Vsys.  When completing your VSYS application/profile all the boxes in yellow are required.

In the application, please provide:

  • Phone (Primary) – Cell phone
  • Birthday – if you are uncomfortable listing your year of birth, please list birth year as 1901

Additional Information Required

  • Why do you want to be an Orchid volunteer?
  • What do you hope to gain and/or learn from the volunteer experience?
  • Provide any experience you have gardening or caring for plants
  • Other documents (resume optional)