The Power of Volunteers
From sprucing up the nursery to spreading mulch, cleaning up the site, being a Meadowkeeper, and orchestrating plant sales, volunteers provide the power that sustains the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, year after year. The efforts of our volunteers bring in thousands of dollars in fundraising and save thousands of dollars in expenses for the Arboretum. We are always welcoming new volunteers, and there are many ways you can help:
Hodge Podge Nursery
The 14-acre property known as Hilltop was donated to LSU by Emory Smith, a retired
postal worker with a decided passion for plants, particularly those native to Louisiana.
In the interest of sharing his enthusiasm, he shared and encouraged the sharing of
plants. The “Hodge Podge” group has followed his lead by giving the Arboretum’s friends
the opportunity to scour their gardens for plants in need of a new home. From its
humble beginnings as a quiet corner at the annual plant sale, the Hodge Podge has
blossomed into a volunteer small-nursery operation. This dedicated group of volunteers
gathers most Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. until noon to propagate and pot plants, weed,
water, make plant ID signs, attach price tags, etc. They also maintain the nursery
– fixing plant tables and repairing wagons. The day always ends with a potluck lunch.
All are welcome! Just show up to become a member of the Hodge Podge.
Email us to receive our weekly Hodge Podge newsletter.
PlantFest and Spring Fling Plant Sales
Work begins long before these events occur annually in April and October. The volunteer
Plant Selection Committee strives to select just the right plants for our customers’
needs. To prepare for the sale, volunteers inventory plants, make lists of tags needed,
print thousands of plant tags, and attach each label; they make plant ID signs and
drive to nurseries to pick up plant orders; they unload plant orders, set up tents,
work traffic control, and adjust irrigation systems. Volunteers manage our gift shop,
Vendors Village, Children’s Tent, and Yarden sale, and a volunteer watering crew ensures
plants remain healthy up to the sale. During the sales, we recruit volunteer plant
experts, tally instructors, gift shop and Yarden salespeople, and cashiers spring
into action. LSU students, scouts, and youth volunteers serve as wagon helpers and
assist with our children’s tent.
Calls for Plant Sale volunteers will be sent out via email to our volunteer list.
Storm and Hurricane Cleanup
With felled trees and debris, Hilltop is often unsafe to drive through the parking
lot after a major storm. After major events, we rely on nearby volunteers to help
with initial storm clean up, making the parking lot and paths accessible. Hilltop
and community volunteers are then called upon to clear out tree debris and further
clear the pathways. If you can safely access Hilltop, we always appreciate the extra
help (and tools!).
Calls for Storm Cleanup volunteers will be sent out via email to our volunteer list, and in these instances, sometimes phone.
Meadow Workdays and Seed Scattering
In the fall and spring, volunteers are called upon to assist with removing invasives
and reseeding Hilltop’s beautiful 3-acre meadow.
Meadow workday notices will be emailed to our volunteer list, posted on social media, and on our website.
Interested in working year-round to help tend to our meadow and help us identify and
log the sprouting seedlings? We invite community members and LSU students interested
in learning more about native plants to become a Hilltop Meadowkeeper.
If you would like to be a Meadowkeeper, please let us know!
Site Work Days
Hilltop hosts Saturday site workdays several times per year to assist with spreading
gravel in the pathways, mulching trees, removing invasive species from the site, and
clearing out overgrowth to make way for new growth. Volunteers include individuals,
families, students, and Scouts.
Site Workday notices will be emailed to our volunteer list, posted on social media, and on our website.
Several volunteers assist us year-round with specific site needs. A volunteer maintains
the bamboo pass; another maintains our seasonal lights. A tractor-owning neighbor
bushhogs the meadows and clears the perimeter overgrowth in his spare time. Boy Scouts
and other volunteer groups looking for service hours have undertaken woodworking projects
such as constructing nursery tables and footbridges.
If you have an area of interest that you’d like to share with us, please let us know!
It’s Not All Outside
We believe there is something for everyone at Hilltop! If plants aren’t your thing
and you would like to help in other ways, we are always accepting help with tasks
such as: sorting seeds, addressing and stuffing envelopes, copying, laminating, writing
our blog, managing social media postings, deep cleaning our kitchens, etc.
If you are looking to work your own hours or on our “it’s not all outside” projects, let us know how you’d like to help!
Let us know your volunteer interests. We send weekly reminders for Hodge Podge Nursery activities, and for other volunteer events as needed. Master gardeners received Service Credit for all Hilltop volunteer activities. Questions? Call 225-767-6916 or email email@example.com.