Volunteering at the ANBG

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Volunteers staffing the wine tent     Photo: Liz Kay
Volunteers staffing the wine tent Photo: Liz Kay

Would you like to spend more time in the Gardens? There are many opportunities for Friends to volunteer at the ANBG, varying from hands-on activities such as plant propagation or participating in the plant stocktake, to guiding visitors around the gardens on foot or in Flora Explorer, to participating in social activities to raise money to support the Gardens, and many more. Read on to discover what the Friends got up to behind the scenes in the last year, and how you can become involved.

Jocelyn with the Flora Explorer2015 started with the fun of the Summer Concerts, where Friends welcomed guests, collected donations, drove the less mobile up to the Eucalypt Lawn (and back down) in Flora Explorer, and provided and staffed the Drinks table. As usual Friends and ANBG staff worked together to make the concerts a success, even when the weather didn't co-operate!

Throughout the year volunteers were at the Visitor Information Centre to welcome guests and answer their questions. Outside, the volunteer guides led free daily guided walks and booked walks around the Gardens to share the beauty of our native plants with visitors. The Flora Explorer (electric bus) volunteer drivers were on deck during weekends and public holidays to take visitors on a tour of highlights of the Gardens, venturing up the side of Black Mountain to the top of the Gardens and down past the Red Centre Garden, weaving its way back to the Visitor Centre. In Spring the bird experts among the Friends lead the very popular early morning ‘Breakfast with the Birds’ walks.

Setting out the plants at a Growing Friends plant sale

You may have noticed coloured ribbons attached to some of the plants on your visits. These were probably attached by volunteers participating in the stock take of the ANBG's living collection. Other groups working quietly in the background included the Seedy Volunteers, who ventured out each week in the collecting season to collect native seeds around Canberra and up to the bogs and fens in the mountains. Back at the Seedbank in the ANBG another group of volunteers processed and prepared the seeds for archiving in the National Seed Bank while others worked preparing dried specimens in the Herbarium.

Have you ever attended a Growing Friends plant sale? If so you know it is wise to arrive early! Plant sales are held in Spring and Autumn and are great fund raisers for the Gardens. Behind the scenes is a group of dedicated and hard-working volunteers who propagate plants from seed and from cuttings collected in the ANBG. They meet regularly for propagating and 'potting on' sessions and attend the growing plants in the shade house until they are ready for sale.

Canberra's Enlighten festival held in February this year provided a new opportunity for volunteers. The Friends were closely involved in preparing and presenting Luminous Botanicus, the Gardens' contribution to Enlighten. Much fun was had at the lantern-making sessions and the resulting lanterns looked very beautiful in the rainforest and the Red Centre Garden at night. Once again Friends were to be found staffing the refreshments table and lighting up the night with torchlight as visitors were guided through the Gardens.

If you are a born organiser we need you. The success of our social activities depends on the many hours of preparation and organisation donated by volunteers. You can be sure it is not all work and no play – it is a great way to meet new friends and have fun in a friendly environment. Also, if you have any specialized expertise such as project management, promotional skills, IT, communication or graphic art skills we would love to hear from you. You might even consider joining the Social Committee which organises activities for the Friends and works in partnership with the ANBG. If you feel you can contribute in any of these areas please contact us at info@friendsANBG.org.au or (02) 6250 9548 (leave message).

As well as volunteering, there are other opportunities to become involved when you are a Friend of the ANBG. You can attend the Thursday lunchtime talks (for a gold coin donation) or the monthly Plant Science Group lectures; or join the Botanic Art Group or the Photographic Group and let loose the artist within.

For more information about volunteering or participating in Gardens activities, see under Get Involved on this website, and under Volunteer Opportunities on the ANBG website. To learn more about our Special Interest Groups see under About us and for more information about how we support the Gardens financially and practically see under Support for the Gardens.

Photographs by Pam Rooney, Alan Munns and Jill More.