Volunteering never gets old at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Whether leading tours or working with rare and endangered plant species, Mercer volunteers are passionate about their projects. Many have been coming to Mercer for decades and take on new roles as their needs and interests change.
Volunteering never gets old at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Whether leading tours or working with rare and endangered plant species, Mercer volunteers are passionate about their projects. Many have been coming to Mercer for decades and take on new roles as their needs and interests change. Some volunteer almost every day while others visit only a few hours per week. Mercer even has volunteers who come once a year for March Mart and other annual events. Why are Mercer volunteers so dedicated? Mercer’s Volunteer Coordinator Jamie Hartwell recently sat down with a few of the dedicated workforce to find out.
The Mercer Society Northside Greenhouses “I had been touring the Mercer gardens for years, seeing them change throughout the seasons and enjoying the peaceful and calming environment. Although I grew up with gardens and began my own years ago, I still feel that I'm a novice gardener. When I had the opportunity to volunteer three years ago, I knew I could learn a lot from the growers. I’m amazed at their vast knowledge. I know I can take any gardening question to them and get an answer.” Tammy volunteered over 200 hours in 2016.
The Mercer Gift and Plant Shoppe “My husband and I are the outdoorsy type. We like to go hiking and visit national parks. Being at Mercer gives me that outdoor feeling that I love so much. I just like being surrounded by plants and nature. I also like air conditioning in the summertime, so I volunteer in the Mercer Society Gift and Plant Shoppe. Because I’m a member, I get discounts on plants and gifts. I told my son that for Christmas, I wanted the wind chimes at Mercer. Now they’re chiming on my back porch. One of my favorite events is March Mart. I love seeing people walk out with plants because I know they’re going to have a pretty garden.” Jean volunteered over 70 hours in 2016.
Mercer Botanic Information Center “I’ve been volunteering at Mercer for 12 years and took Master Gardener classes here. It’s just so beautiful! Every Wednesday, I work at the reception desk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., answering phones, greeting guests, and giving them information about the gardens. The staff and volunteers are just such a nice bunch of people, a real congenial group who loves cookies! Many years ago, the office manager, who always brought in cookies, moved to California. Everyone missed them, so I decided to continue the tradition. Although I make several different kinds, I’d say chocolate chip is the favorite. But no matter what type I bring, the box is usually empty by the time I leave!” Willadene volunteered over 130 hours in 2016. Jean Heineman Willadene Graves So what motivates you? Perhaps you want to gain confidence, make a difference, meet people, be part of a community, learn new skills, take on a challenge, have fun? Whatever it is, you’ll find all that and more at Mercer!
Keeping up with nearly 300 Mercer volunteers can be difficult for even the most meticulous person. For Mercer volunteer and retired librarian Anne Strommer, it’s second nature. As a librarian, Strommer organized hundreds of thousands of books over her career before becoming a Mercer volunteer 20 years ago.
Mercer’s diverse group of volunteers bloom when planted in the right place with the attention they need to grow and thrive. For years, Mercer has welcomed a different species of volunteer, botanically known as “studentaei internus,” but more commonly known as the student intern or student volunteer.
Gudrun Opperman remembers the excitement of sharing new native plants with the public at March Mart.
The Mercer Society (TMS) now offers a complimentary senior-level membership to anyone who volunteers at least 200 hours at Mercer Botanic Gardens. “We are so grateful for the many volunteers who give their time throughout the year,” says Maryanne Esser, president of The Mercer Society. “This is just a way we could show our appreciation for their time, effort, and dedication to Mercer.”
Precinct 4’s Senior Adult Program invites all senior adults 50 years of age and better to
volunteer at Star of Hope Mission Thursday, March 9 at 8:15 a.m.
Saturday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Join Jones Park staff and volunteers at this fun, family friendly event to learn about nature in the Houston area. Enjoy guided walks, educational booths, pontoon boat tours, live animal exhibits, a catch-and-release fishing booth, and other demonstrations. Guest speakers for the event include Stuart Coombs of the Texas A&M Forest Service, noted birder and author Gary Clark, and monarch butterfly enthusiast and JJPV member Christina McKinney.
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