Volunteer Projects

Looking for somewhere to volunteer? Check out these current Master Gardener Volunteer Projects!

Pollinator Project – Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association

RPMGA is starting a major, multi-year project to help educate folks in Rock County about our threatened pollinators and how individuals can make a difference. There will be lots of different kinds of volunteer opportunities with the project, but right now we’re forming a couple working groups to tackle some specific tasks

One group will focus on planning demonstration gardens. We have four locations for 2017, and need to put together a basic plan for their size, plants to include, water features, shelters for the pollinators, signs needed, maintenance, funding, etc. In future years, we hope to expand the number of demonstration gardens and begin to use them as outdoor classrooms for the pollinator project.

A second group will tackle a plan for pollinator project tables at community events such as farmers markets, earth day celebrations, 4H Fair, and others. The group will decide what message to focus on in 2017, what resources and materials to provide for various age groups, giveaways, simple projects that could be done at the table with kids, etc. They’ll identify events we can target for a presence. And they’ll put together a “kit” of supplies and materials for the table that any MGV can check out from the Extension office and return after an event.

If you’d like to be part of either of these groups, please contact Mary Kay Thompson by email at mastergardenermary@gmail.com, or by phone at 608-322-4800.

Farm to School – School Gardens

If you’re interested in working with kids out in the garden, consider volunteering with Rock County Farm to School. Garden support is needed to assist teachers with hands-on education and general summer maintenance. Several gardens already exist, with many more just beginning. Of specific interest are the school and neighborhood gardens next to Wilson Elementary School.

Heritage Garden at Beckman Mill

The Heritage Garden located at Beckman Mill Park in Beloit contains beautiful vegetable and flower collections that connect the historic grounds to the food grown at that time. Vegetables produced from this garden are donated back to the local community. Funds exist from both The Friends of Beckman Mill and Rock County Parks to purchase seeds and materials for growing. Volunteers are requested to help plan, plant, and maintain these gardens.

For more information on this volunteer opportunity, contact Dave Hoffman by email or phone (608) 757-5473.

Edgerton Hospital Healing Gardens

Newly installed gardens at the Edgerton Hospital serve as a place for respite and relaxation for staff and patients alike. Take part in beautifying the gardens by adopting a garden spot to maintain. Or,  participate in garden-wide workdays throughout the year. Administrators are looking for a volunteer coordinator to help manage volunteer work needs and garden maintenance.

If you’d like to volunteer, please call Bonnie at (608) 884-1401.

Rock County Historical Society

The Rock County Historical Society is located at the historic Tallman House in Downtown Janesville. Tours provide education about what it was like to live in Victorian times. The grounds are ripe for landscaping that has a historical and educational aspect, including heirloom kitchen and herb gardens. Help create inviting landscapes, maintain gardens, and provide education that ties gardening to Victorian living. This project is just beginning, and may have less established work expectations.

Ice Age Trail

The Ice Age Trail Alliance, Rock County Chapter maintains and promotes the portion of the Ice Age Trail that meanders through Rock County. As a part of a bigger, state-wide Ice Age Trail, these paths promote a connection to the ecological history of our state and provide a way to connect with and appreciate our natural areas. Volunteer opportunities exist with trail maintenance, invasive species management, and other trail related projects.

Contact MGV Dennis James by email for more information about the various volunteer opportunities available along the trail in Rock County.

Community Sharing Gardens in Beloit

Community Action maintains a six city-lot community sharing garden in Beloit’s Merril Neighborhood. Volunteers are needed to assist with garden maintenance, lead volunteer groups, and participate with the Saturday morning kid’s gardening club that exposes kids to fresh foods, creating and maintaining a kid’s garden, and having fun.

Welty Environmental Center

The Welty Environmental Center located next to the Beckman Mill Park in Beloit provides educational opportunities to children and adults alike in all aspects of environmental fun! From testing streams to petting turtles, wandering the nature paths to learning about natural predators, the Welty Environmental Center provides many educational opportunities. Volunteers are requested for assisting with educational programs.

Invasive Species Management in Rock County Parks

Garlic mustard got you down? Do you have a thing against buckthorn? Assist with annual garlic mustard pulls at Carver-Roehl, Magnolia Bluff, Gibbs Lake, or Beckman Mill Parks. Or, help remove invasive shrubs such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and black locust. By removing invasive species, volunteers improve the overall health of our natural areas and help bring back natural and native species.

For more information on garlic pulls and invasive shrub removal projects, contact Dave Hoffman by email or phone (608) 757-5473.

Conservation: Restoration Projects and Seed Collecting/Spreading with Rock County Parks

Land restoration projects can be done individually or volunteers can lead special workdays. Training and equipment is provided for either option. In the fall, volunteers are invited to join parks staff for collecting seed for restoration purposes.

For more information on restoration projects and seed collecting, contact Dave Hoffman by email or phone (608) 757-5473.

Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville

Rotary Botanical Gardens is a 20-acre botanical garden located in Janesville. The gardens rely heavily on volunteer support to not only maintain the beautiful grounds, but run several of their educational programs. Many volunteer opportunities in education and maintenance are available for MGVs, such as working with school age children in the garden with any number of educational programs, serving as a docent to the grounds providing tours, or even maintaining garden spaces.

Please note: only volunteer work that is directly related to education will be counted towards your certification hours. This includes general garden maintenance, which is important to provide the plants and gardens for visitors to educate themselves with. This does not include working in the gift shop, performing public relations duties, serving in admissions or as a greeter, doing program prep that is administrative in nature, the Holiday Light Show, or doing sales at the seasonal plant sale.

Contact Mark Dwyer at (608) 754-1779 to volunteer in the gardens or with educational programs.

Plant Health Advisors at the UW-Extension Office

Throughout the growing season, community members call the UW-Extension office for advice and information regarding gardening and gardening problems. If you like to problem solve and learn, consider becoming a Plant Health Advisor (PHA). PHAs answer questions and talk to UW-Extension users.

Support Services with the UW-Extension Office

If you like to write articles or assist with administrative tasks, then consider volunteering in the UW-Extension office. Your contributions are welcome on the monthly MGV newsletter, as well as other projects as they become available.

Contact Kim Mork at (608) 757-5696.

Community Outreach and Education

Do you like talking to community members about gardening? Do you want to promote UW-Extension and the MGV program? Community outreach and education volunteers attend community events like the Farmers Market to answer questions about gardening.



Start Up: St. Mary’s Hospital Healing Gardens

St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville has newly installed Healing Gardens, complete with water features and a meditative labyrinth. This project is in need of volunteers interested in providing and promoting educational aspects of the garden, in addition to general maintenance and recommendations for betterment.

Start Up: River Street Rain Gardens

In 2014, a rain garden was installed along River Street between Court and Racine Streets in Downtown Janesville. This garden serves as an educational example of a popular gardening technique that uses native plants and smart landscaping to construct water-wise gardens. This garden is in need of educational signage and general upkeep to maintain the plant collections. With the Community Support Program (CSP) located close by, the potential exists to provide general therapeutic horticulture through connecting CSP with garden upkeep. A volunteer is requested to help build a maintenance and education program while bringing in local volunteers.

Start Up: Beloit Community Gardens

Located between Merril Street and 6th Street in Beloit, volunteers are needed to help re-vamp a small community garden space. With some neighborhood interest, this project needs a volunteer willing to help create and coordinate an effective Community Garden Space.

Start Up: Demonstration Vegetable Gardens 

The Sustainable Janesville Committee is looking for Master Gardener Volunteer Assistance in building and maintaining container vegetable gardens outside of city hall. These gardens will serve as an educational demonstration for growing vegetables at home.

Start Up: GIFTS Shelter

The GIFTS Men’s Shelter is looking for assistance planning and maintaining garden beds at its new facility. This newly purchased property is not yet established, so this project is just beginning!

More information needed: MGVs Speaker Circuit