by Rachel Hutchins, 2017-2018 Annual Intern
Tell me about your experience volunteering at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. How long have you been a volunteer?
I started volunteering at UDBG shortly after completing the Master Gardener Program in 1999. At that time we helped maintain and provide tours at the Habitat Trail, a program for teachers and students to visit the site and become acquainted with nature. When the Habitat Trail transitioned into the Herbaceous and Native Gardens, I started helping with the potting sessions by planting seeds, transplanting, pruning and grooming plants.
Who or what sparked your interest in volunteering?
Most of my volunteer time has been in the horticultural field. This interest was instilled by my grandfather, a rosarian for Storres and Harrison Nursery in Painesville, Ohio. Each year I would go out in the summer and work in the fields, gaining interest in plant propagation and care along the way. While working for DuPont, I found that many of my co-workers would seek advice regarding their plants and I was able to help them.
In which areas do you participate?
From now until early December, I am typically in the potting sessions most Tuesdays to assist with whatever is on the maintenance agenda. In mid-December, the push is on to assemble the signage for the Spring UDBG sale. This process entails checking the 4,200 photos in the archives and locating photos for items needed. The information is then transferred to Donna Gerst who generates the required signage. Assembling the signage and having it ready for presentation at the sale takes cooperation with others at UDBG. During the sale, I assist participants in the ‘Holding Area.’
What are you most passionate about in life?
I am most passionate about working with people and sharing knowledge I have acquired over the years.
Tell me something people might not know about you.
I enjoy good food and traveling. I’ve visited all 50 states and more than 180 National Park sites.
What piece of advice would you offer to people interested in volunteering at UDBG for the first time?
Volunteering at UDBG is a valuable way to meet and work with people of diverse backgrounds. It is an activity that you can participate in at your leisure. There are no time clocks and always an opportunity to pick up a tidbit of knowledge, whether planting, pruning, propagating, or behind the scenes activity. The staff and volunteers are a pleasure to be around. Also, there’s the knowledge that what you are doing is benefitting the garden, the community, and the students.