Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller, Volunteer

Tell me about your experience volunteering at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. How long have you been a volunteer?

I have been a volunteer at UDBG for 4-5 years. Volunteering in the gardens gives me the chance to work outside and enjoy all the beauty of the trees, hear the birds, and maybe see a butterfly or two. Caring for plants and ensuring they have the best growing conditions is rewarding.


What sparked your interest in volunteering ?

My background is in animal science, but plants have always fascinated me. I use UD’s Cooperative Extension website to look up information, and one day I accidentally found UDBG. I saw they took volunteers so I decided to apply.

Tell me more about your volunteer duties. What do you enjoy about these tasks?

After my first volunteer session, I realized the Lepidoptera Trail and the Native Garden needed the most attention. Since I enjoy challenges, I asked for permission to concentrate on those areas. I started to tackle the most overgrown areas by reducing competition from invasive species to help the natives thrive. I learned about native and invasive species during my career as a Soil Conservation Planner. Native species are important host plants for many insects. It is a thrill to find butterfly or moth eggs on a plant, but even better to find caterpillars munching away. These kinds of habitats are critical today!

What are you most passionate about in life?

I am passionate about the natural world and I want to do what I can to provide ecosystems for critters in my own backyard, no matter the size.

Tell me something people might not know about you.

I made a new raised bed for my greens when I returned to our Florida property this fall. The plans came from the UD Extension Service! I planted my old veggie garden with a milkweed species to host Monarch larvae and butterflies. It has been amazing to watch two crops of caterpillars munch away and then disappear to find a sheltered place to change into a chrysalis. The “cats” grow so fast. I hope I have helped a few become butterflies and head south for the winter.

What piece of advice would you offer to people interested in volunteering at UDBG?

Volunteering at UDBG is rewarding. The accomplishments are evident. One gets to meet new people, make new friends, and feel like a part of something.