COVID-19 Update: Duke Gardens is closed until further notice.

This decision is in keeping with Duke University’s policies aiming to minimize health and safety risks to the Duke community and beyond, and to encourage social distancing to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The closure includes both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming visitors again in the future.

All information is subject to change on short notice. See more updates and advisories from Duke University at coronavirus.duke.edu.





volunteer check-in link button

Gardens need people to bring them to life, and people to nourish and pass them into future hands. Duke Gardens volunteers are that promise to the future. We cannot overstate the essential contribution volunteers make to the growth, purpose and beauty of the Gardens. Volunteers bring their interests, energy, knowledge and passion to the Gardens, helping visitors by:

  • offering information
  • guiding tours and leading education programs
  • maintaining gardens
  • promoting membership
  • enriching each visitor’s experience

We welcome and challenge you to expand your knowledge of the natural world and help each visitor find inspiration, enjoyment and a stronger connection to Duke Gardens. Be a force of nature – volunteer at Duke Gardens.

How to join the volunteer family

We appreciate your interest in volunteering at Duke Gardens. Our adult volunteer teams are currently at full capacity. Please check back in summer 2020 for future opportunities. If you still wish to submit an application, please click this volunteer interest form (PDF) to submit your application using the list of volunteer opportunities below as a guide. Please note: In the meantime, submitted interested forms will be kept on file for 6 months, and you will be emailed an invitation to attend one of our future volunteer info sessions.

There are many volunteer opportunities at Duke Gardens. In order for you to understand volunteering at Duke Gardens, we ask that you attend one volunteer information session to learn about the Gardens, our volunteer requirements and our specific volunteer needs.


Active volunteers:  Active volunteer positions require a commitment of generally two hours per week for a minimum of three months. As an active Duke Gardens volunteer, you are required to participate in Core Knowledge Training, with additional training required for specific program areas.

Special event volunteers: For those who are unable to commit to a regular weekly or bi-weekly schedule, we do have variable year-round volunteer opportunities at our events. This may include event setup, assisting at plant sales, helping with children's activities, wayfinding and much more.

Adult Volunteer Opportunities for 2020 (on hold; please see COVID-19 notice at the top of this page)

Children’s docents – weekdays, spring-fall

Are you a nature lover who enjoys engaging with children? All you need is an interest in nature, a willingness to grow and learn, and a flexible, friendly attitude. Join an enthusiastic team of children’s docents who are passionate about sharing their enthusiasm about nature and interacting with children outdoors in the Gardens.

Garden ambassadors - weekdays or weekends, mornings or afternoons, spring-fall

Enjoy meeting and engaging with people while outdoors? Ambassadors greet and offer directions to our visitors at stations throughout the Gardens. In addition to sharing information about the Gardens’ collections, ambassadors encourage exploration of the Gardens in their station areas, and they communicate about seasonal activities taking place at Duke Gardens.

Tour docents – weekdays, mornings or afternoons, spring-fall

Do you possess the gift of gab and take pleasure in sharing knowledge with others? Tour docents lead trolley and walking tours and enthusiastically interact with visitors to explore the Gardens. They also teach about our horticultural displays and features, and they promote conversation to enhance visitors' experiences.

Info desk receptionists – weekdays, mornings or afternoons, year-round

Want to visit with people from all over the world to offer help and make a person’s Gardens experience more satisfying? If so, you may enjoy being a receptionist at the Doris Duke Center visitor info desk and assisting visitors by helping them with wayfinding in the Gardens and directing them to highlights in the Gardens in person and on the phone.

Membership & development assistants – weekdays or weekends, mornings or afternoons, year-round

Do you appreciate Duke Gardens and understand the many benefits that it provides in our community and for its members? Membership and development volunteers assist with a wide array of tasks, both indoors and outdoors, from helping with mailings and clerical work to  promoting Gardens membership and welcoming members at special events and functions. These volunteers enjoy growing our membership base and underscoring the relationship between the Gardens and Duke University.

Gardening assistants – weekday mornings, year-round (weather permitting)

Love getting in the dirt and doing garden work? Gardening assistants support our horticulture staff to maintain the beauty of the Gardens, primarily by weeding, watering and mulching, with occasional planting and more. Gardening tasks require physical exertion, including bending, kneeling, stretching and reaching, as well as tolerance for varying weather conditions and insects outdoors. Gardening assistants are assigned to a particular Gardens area and must be able to work both independently and on a team.

Student Volunteer Opportunities for 2020 (on hold; please see COVID-19 notice at the top of this page)

(Students must be 16 or older to volunteer at Duke Gardens.)

Gift shop volunteers: Are you seeking service hours and looking to give back to your community? Student volunteer opportunities are available at Duke Gardens’ Terrace gift shop from March through September of 2020. These opportunities are limited to Friday afternoons and weekends. Please complete a student volunteer gift shop application and follow submission directions on the application. UPDATE: Due to COVID-19 policies, the gift shop is closed and does not yet have a reopening date. Please check back later in the year. Thank you.

Summer camp volunteers:  Do you enjoy mentoring young children and leading them in learning activities outdoors? If you are a high school student who will be at least 16 years old by June 2020, please submit a summer camp application (UPDATE: our summer camps are canceled for 2020; please check back next year) and follow submission directions on the application.


•    Make a difference in your community and inspire others by supporting the mission of Duke Gardens 
•    Meet people with similar interests
•    Enjoy volunteer events, lunch and learn programs and annual celebrations 
•    Earn a discount at Duke Gardens' Terrace Gift Shop
•    Have fun and challenge yourself


Please email us or call 919.668.3694. Thank you for your interest!

Current Volunteer check-in