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Becoming a Volunteer

Volunteers with Portland Japanese Garden must: (1) be at least 16 years of age (2) be able to commit to a minimum of two volunteer shifts per month. Volunteers who commit 40 hours or more of service to Portland Japanese Garden in a year will receive a voucher they can apply to a Garden membership.

Our volunteer onboarding process consists of four steps:

  1. Apply Please complete this application if you are interested in volunteering at Portland Japanese Garden.
  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 – Work alongside one of the Garden’s wonderful volunteer mentors to prepare to volunteer on your own.

Our Volunteer Opportunities

Garden Monitors

Garden Monitors support our Visitor Relations staff by answering questions, providing wayfinding assistance, and educating visitors about Portland Japanese Garden. Clear, friendly, and welcoming communication skills are a requirement for this role. Volunteers must enjoy working outside and providing accurate information to visitors from all backgrounds. 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 10am-4pm.

Bonsai Volunteers

Bonsai Docents greet visitors at the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace and share knowledge about the art of bonsai. A background in horticulture is a benefit, but not as important as a friendly demeanor and excellent customer service skills. Shifts are two hours long and available weekdays and weekends between the hours of 10am-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. Our 2023 exhibition program has featured the diverse work of three contemporary Japanese artists working in different mediums: ceramics, glass, and wood. Docent shifts are two hours long and available weekdays and weekends between the hours of 10am-4pm. An orientation with our Art Team (and sometimes with the visiting artists) is held before each exhibition to prepare volunteers.

Horticulture 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.

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 Volunteer Programs Manager 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.