Photo by Jonathan Ley

Current Volunteers

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Volunteer Opportunties

The extraordinary Portland Japanese Garden is maintained through the vital support of our year-round volunteers. There are eight different volunteer programs at the Garden. Each program requires a different level of volunteer experience and commitment, although we ask every volunteer to try to commit to a minimum of 15 hours of service for a period no shorter than one year.

No matter which program you choose, we welcome you to join our dynamic volunteer team! Below is a detailed list of our volunteer programs.

Retail Volunteer Program – New in Spring 2017

The new retail volunteer associate position will assist with all day to day tasks in the Garden Gift Shop with a focus on customer service. They will interact with Gift Shop visitors and work alongside Gift Shop staff to assist in answering questions about products and with organizing, wrapping, stocking, and stickering of product. The retail volunteer should have a friendly and outgoing personality; be interested in learning about Japanese culture and how it relates to shop products, crafts, and artwork; be attentive to customer needs and be comfortable working on their feet with some bending and occasional lifting.

Training will be provided by the Retail General Manager. Retail volunteers will be asked to commit to two 3 hour shifts per month for a period no shorter than one year. Weekday and weekend shifts are available.

Village Concierge Program – New in Spring 2017

The Village Concierge volunteer will be stationed on the main floor of our new Garden House within the Cultural Village. The Concierge will greet and orient visitors to the Garden. They will distribute the Garden’s brochure and self-guided map, advertise for daily public tours and Garden events, and answer general questions about the Garden and the Cultural Village. Applicants should also be able to work effectively with diverse populations and be able to answer questions about the Garden and other venues in Washington Park.

The village Concierge will be asked to commit to one 4 hour shift per week for a period no shorter than one year. Weekday and weekend shifts are available.

Cultural, Arts, and Education Program

Volunteer opportunities in the CAE Program include assisting with gallery exhibitions and annual cultural festivals.

Exhibition docents are trained by the Garden’s Exhibition Coordinator. Their job is to orient and welcome visitors to the exhibition, provide information about the artwork, maintain cleanliness in the gallery, and secure artworks from theft or damage. Interested parties should have a background in, or willingness to learn about Japanese art, culture, history, and design. Mandatory docent orientations are offered before the start of each exhibition.

The Garden celebrates numerous Japanese cultural festivals throughout the year, including: Children’s Day, Tanabata, O-Bon, and Moonviewing. Cultural festival volunteers assist the CAE team in making these events a success. They will be asked to greet visitors, assist with traditional arts and crafts, serve food and drinks, rove the Garden, and enforce Garden etiquette with attendees. The shift times are flexible. Weekday and weekend shifts are available.

Horticultural Support Program

The horticultural support program is a hands-on program that is perfect for the rugged volunteer who is eager to get their hands dirty with tasks such as: sweeping pathways, raking moss, picking blossoms, clearing away weeds, and pulling ivy. Horticultural volunteers don’t do any pruning. After attending an orientation session, volunteers are asked to commit to a regular weekday shift from 8am-12pm and volunteer for at least 4 hours per month or 48 hours per year.

Tour Guide Program

There are two primary assignments under the tour guide program. Garden guides and speakers bureau presenters. Garden guides provide our visitors with interesting and informative cultural, historical, and horticultural information about the Garden. They are responsible for leading public tours, private tours, and K-12 school tours. They may also be asked to rove the Garden during our prime hours of 11am-3pm to provide visitors with information. We encourage guides to sign up for two tours per month or commit to 24 hours of service per year.

Office Support Program

Office support volunteers work in the Garden’s administration office and primarily support the Garden’s membership, development, and marketing departments with duties like stuffing and sealing envelopes, folding and cutting packet inserts, organizing files, and putting together multi-piece mailings. Office support shifts are offered on weekdays only, usually in the afternoon from 2-3 hour long shifts.

Haiku Alive! School Program

Haiku Alive! volunteers join us in our efforts to engage underserved youth in the Parkrose School District of Portland. Haiku Alive! volunteers work alongside educators in the fall to engage school children in learning about the Garden through writing haiku poetry. Then, in the spring time, volunteers lead Parkrose students around the Garden on photo excursion tours where children are given the opportunity to learn about photography as inspiration for creating haiku. At the end of the school year, the students’ haiku and photos are collected in a final project.

Haiku Alive! shifts are offered on weekday mornings or early afternoons for 2-3 hour long shifts. Haiku Alive! volunteers must consent to yearly background checks with the Parkrose School District.


Why Should I Consider Volunteering?

Volunteering at the Garden is a way to build community, gain knowledge of Japanese culture, have new and exciting experiences, and have fun! Garden volunteers are a crucial link between the public and the Garden, and allow our non-profit to thrive.

Volunteers are required to be members, and as such, receive the same benefits as members. In addition to member benefits, volunteers receive the following:

  • Induction into Oregon’s Volunteer Passport Program
  • Annual complimentary Washington Park volunteer parking pass awarded after 15 hours of service each year
  • Continuing education and annual volunteer appreciation events

What happens after I submit my application?

Our Volunteer Coordinator will get back to you within 1-2 business days to schedule an interview with the director of your volunteer assignment/s you indicated on your application. Please be prepared to give a few times/dates that you are available for an interview.


How do I become a Garden volunteer?

The Garden is not accepting new volunteers at this time. For more information about our volunteer programs or to be placed on our waitlist, please email our Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected] or call 503-542-9354.


Volunteer Feedback Form

VOLUNTEER FEEDBACK FORM