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Becoming a Volunteer

Volunteers with Portland Japanese Garden must be: (1) at least 16 years of age, (2) able to make a six-month commitment to volunteering. Volunteers receive a $70 voucher towards a Portland Japanese Garden membership after 40 hours of service each year.  

Our volunteer on-boarding process consists of four steps:

  1. Apply – our volunteer application is currently closed for the winter. Please check back in the spring to apply.
  2. Meet with Us– After your application has been reviewed, applicants will be invited to a virtual meeting with a member of our Volunteer Department. This short meeting gives us a chance to get to know your skills, interests, and availability.
  3. Attend a Volunteer Orientation– New volunteers are required to take part in a 90-minute virtual session before their first volunteer shift.
  4. Shadow an Experienced Volunteer

Our Volunteer Opportunities

Garden Monitors

Garden Monitor’s support our Visitor Relations staff by offering assistance and wayfinding to visitors. Clear, friendly, and welcoming communication skills are a basic requirement. Volunteers must enjoy working outside and providing accurate information to visitors from all backgrounds. This role is best for outgoing personalities. Garden Monitors must acquire a thorough knowledge of Portland Japanese Garden through self-study of provided resource materials. Shifts are two hours long and available weekdays and weekends between the hours of 10-4pm.

Bonsai Volunteers

Bonsai Docents welcome visitors to the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace and educate the public about Japanese culture and the art of bonsai. A background in horticulture is a benefit, but not as important as an outgoing personality and excellent customer service skills. Shifts are two hours long and available weekdays and weekends between the hours of 10-4pm from March-October. Bonsai volunteers receive a packet of online training materials to prepare for their role.

Exhibition Docents

Art lovers with outgoing personalities will love our Exhibition Docent program. Exhibition Docents welcome the public to our Pavilion gallery and educate visitors about artworks on display. 2022 exhibitions include: Netsuke carvings, botanical art, and a ceramic exhibit. Docent shifts are 2 hours long and available weekdays and weekends between the hours of 10-4pm. An orientation with our Curator (and sometimes with the visiting artists) is held before each exhibition to prepare the volunteers.

Horticultural Support Volunteers

Horticulture Support volunteers are a vital resource for the gardeners at Portland Japanese Garden. These volunteers assist with tasks such as weeding, raking, sweeping, moss and ivy removal, as well as general garden clean-up. Interested individuals should possess a strong work ethic and be able to handle all types of weather conditions. They must also be able to kneel (on provided pads) for extended periods. Horticulture Support shifts are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and are four hours long from 8am-12pm.

Welcome Center Greeters

The Welcome Center Greeter position is a new role at the Garden that is a great fit for high school or college students who are seeking some job experience for their resume. The Welcome Center Greeter works out of our ticketing area and is tasked with managing the admissions queue, engaging with visitors in line for tickets, and setting guests up for a positive experience of the Garden. Shifts are available Saturdays-Mondays at 9:30am-11:30am and 12pm-2pm. This is a seasonal position from July through the end of October.

Event Volunteers

The Garden holds many cultural festivals and receptions throughout the year and relies on volunteers to help us make our events a success. These shifts are typically 2-4 hours long and are available in the afternoon or evenings on Thursdays-Sundays.

Office Volunteers

Office support is needed periodically throughout the year. When needed, office volunteers work alone or in groups to complete projects for the Executive, Development and Membership departments. The time commitment varies depending on the demands of the particular department and position (a typical shift is usually on a weekday for two to three hours). The work is usually done off-site in our administrative offices and includes things like assembling mailings, gift bags, and nametags. 

Tour Guides

Tour Guides give public tours, private tours, and school tours of the Garden. Guide training includes 16 hours of classroom study, followed by a period of self-study and mentorship. The training takes approximately 3-4 months to complete. Guide training is run as needed. Please email our Director of Volunteer Programs for more information at the email below.

Contact our Volunteer Department

If you have any questions about volunteering at Portland Japanese Garden, please contact the Volunteer Department by emailing [email protected] or by calling 503-542-9354.

Policy Against Discrimination

At Portland Japanese Garden we celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees and volunteers. We recruit, employ, train, encourage, and recognize our volunteers for their hard work without regard to race, color, national origin, creed, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, disability, age, veteran status, or any other status protected by law. It is also the policy of Portland Japanese Garden that all employees and volunteers are entitled to a work in an environment free from all forms of discrimination. Discrimination or harassment based upon any of these factors is inconsistent with the policy and philosophy of Portland Japanese Garden and will not be tolerated at any time.