Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

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Become a Volunteer

Volunteering at the Morris Arboretum can be a rewarding and stimulating experience. You will learn new skills, make new friends, and become a valued member of the extended volunteer staff. The Arboretum could not accomplish all that it does without the help of its volunteers who play an integral role in the organization. Listed below are some of the areas in need of assistance, with a contact person for each area. Thank you for considering this volunteer opportunity. We hope to see you at the Arboretum soon!

Download the Volunteer Application


Next Training Class March 2020. Deadline to apply January 31, 2020.

Volunteer Tour Guides:

For more information contact: Liza Hawley - or 215.247.5777 ext.128.


Volunteers assist in garden maintenance of our living plant collections. They meet once a week on a weekday morning from the first week in March through mid-December. The group rotates throughout the Arboretum grounds working in a variety of uneven terrains. Together as a group, they tackle a number of physical garden tasks such as hand weeding, digging, mulching, pruning and invasive plant removal under the supervision of the Arboretum horticulture staff. Previous gardening experience is helpful, but not required, and you must be able to lift at least 10-15lbs. Before you begin volunteering, you must submit an application, as signed waiver as well as attend one of our monthly orientation sessions. Orientations are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from March-Nov. at 8:00am. Application and waiver must be submitted in order to register for the orientation. Please submit completed documents via email below.

Contact: Pam Morris Olshefski - or 215.247.5777 ext.188

Garden Railway

Volunteers play a key role by welcoming visitors to the display, answering questions and helping visitors experience everything there is to see and do at the Arboretum. If you enjoy interacting with both children and adults, this is the perfect opportunity for you. Shifts are three hours in length (10 a.m. - 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.). Come spend a few hours at the Arboretum and experience the magic of the trains!

Contact: Vince Marrocco - or 215.247.5777 ext.143

Special Events

Have fun while lending a helping hand! Spring through autumn opportunities occur for volunteers to provide assistance with programs such as Fall Family Weekend and Bloomfield Farm Day. Most events are on weekends. If you would like to be contacted as these events are approaching to see if they work with your schedule, please send an email to the staff contact listed below.

Contact: Michelle Conners - or 215.247.5777 ext.109


The Membership office is fully staffed with volunteers at this time.

Volunteers work with development office staff and assist in all aspects of membership, annual giving, and special event mailings. Tasks include labeling, stuffing, and sorting. Volunteers usually come on the same day of the week on a regular basis.

Contact: Alison Thornton – or 215.247.5777 ext.105

Visitor Services

Individuals from all backgrounds are encouraged to become Visitor Education Volunteers and make a positive contribution to the Arboretum and the community at large.

Get behind-the-scenes training that will help you make every visitor's experience the best possible. Learn from Arboretum staff and experienced volunteers how to uncover the sources of all Arboretum knowledge. Meet the nicest people: Visitors at the Morris Arboretum!

To be considered for the next class, please complete an application and email, bring in or mail to:
Morris Arboretum, Attn: Liza Hawley
100 E Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118

For more information contact: Liza Hawley - or 215.247.5777 ext.128.

Springfield Mills

The Run-of-the-Mill volunteers are restoring Springfield Mills to water-powered operation. The structure dates to 1854 with elements from 1761 and sits along the Wissahickon on the Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm. The mill stones and water-powered machinery are over a century old. Volunteers work on the mill on the second Saturday of every month and operate the mill during public events at Bloomfield. Activities include carpentry, masonry, equipment restoration and general clean up. Research, documentation and education volunteers are welcome. Learn more about Springfield Mills

Contact: Bob Gutowski - or 215.247.5777 ext.132

Archives & History

Archives and History is fully staffed with volunteers at this time.

The Archivist at the Morris Arboretum organizes and conserves historic papers, journals, objects, and photographs from the period of the Morris family’s ownership of the Compton Estate, and through its early years with the University of Pennsylvania. Volunteers help conserve or organize historic objects, or take on a project to catalog or research the historical documents. Library or research experience are helpful. Volunteers work on weekdays with the archivist, usually two to four hours at a time, three or four afternoons a month at their convenience. Learn more about the history of Morris Arboretum

Contact: Leslie Morris-Smith - or 215.247.5777 ext.175

Visitor Experience

Be a part of the action! Volunteers in Visitor Experience are the face of the Arboretum, interacting with our visitors (over 130,000 a year!) in a multitude of ways. On any given day (though mostly weekends), you may be out in a field directing parking, welcoming visitors, helping folks get in and out of the shuttle, or out in the Garden assisting visitors (and protecting the trees). This is a great opportunity for someone who loves helping people and moving around and doesn’t mind rotating responsibilities.

Contact: Christopher Dorman– or 215.247.5777 ext.136

Physical Facilities

Physical Facilities volunteers play a vital role in helping to maintain some of the features at Morris Arboretum such as fountains and visitor center. Tasks range from helping paint interior walls to skimming leaves from fountains to keep the water flowing and the pumps from burning out. A background in a skilled trade such as mechanics or carpentry would be very helpful, but not required. No heavy lifting or expert knowledge is required for many jobs.

Contact: Tom Wilsom – or 215.247.5777 ext.108

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Volunteers Needed:

Guest Garden Writers

Are you an avid gardener, nature enthusiast, or horticultural professional looking to share your expertise? We are currently seeking volunteer guest contributors to write for the Morris Arboretum Blog. Journalism/editorial writing experience a plus, but not required.

For more information please contact the Marketing Department at

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Alerts & Updates

COVID-19 Response

In response to the unprecedented public health crisis related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Morris Arboretum will close to the public as of March 14, 2020 until the University of Pennsylvania feels that is it safe to re-open. Learn more about the Univerisity's response on the University of Pennsylvania’s dedicated Coronavirus website: Please know that this decision was made after careful deliberation and that our priority is to do all we can to ensure the safety and well being of our staff, volunteers, and visitors. Information pertaining to public health is rapidly evolving and, as such, it is not yet known when we will reopen. We will be vigilant in our efforts to keep our website up-to-date and we will communicate directly to members and class registrants via email with the latest details.

The following information is provided in anticipation of some of the questions you may have relative to the following categories:

Individuals who have registered for a class
It is our intention to provide a refund to individuals who have registered for a class that occurs during this temporary closure. We are working as quickly as possible to process your refunds in the manner in which you paid. If you have questions, please contact

Annual Membership
We appreciate your patience at this time. We know that early spring is the most natural time to come out to the Arboretum for a walk in the gardens to enjoy the fresh air, but maintaining public health must be our priority. We look forward to seeing you in the gardens just as soon as we are reassured that it is safe for all of our visitors to return. We will keep you updated on any developments, but in the meantime, if you have any questions about your membership, please contact

Planned Events
Any individuals that have planned events will receive outreach directly from a staff member to discuss your options.

We will continue to update the community as soon as information is available and is consistent with the evolution of this dynamic situation. Questions may be directed to

We appreciate your understanding during these challenging times and we thank you for your support. Please stay connected with us through Facebook, Instagram, and our website.

Center for Disease Control (CDC):
University of Pennsylvania’s dedicated Coronavirus website:

Unfortunately, Out on a Limb will be closed on Wednesday, January 29th through Friday, January 31, 2020 due to scheduled maintenance.

The Garden Railway will not be operational from 2:00 PM Friday (July 19) through the weekend (July 20-21). The trains will open for normal operation on Monday, July 22nd. Our Train Master reported that the trains will not operate in the excessive heat, citing electrical, track and rolling stock failures.

The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.

Garden Railway trains are not running Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th due to inclement weather.

Please note: The Rose Garden is closed for maintenance every Thursday morning until noon.

Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.