by Elizabeth Kelley, Conservatory Volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
On the bus ride home after school, my friends and I often compare notes on our jobs. I almost feel sorry for the poor souls when I tell them my latest news from my job volunteering at the Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It usually runs along the lines of “I deheaded lilies last week. Yeah, that’s the technical term, “deheading.” Cool, eh?” What can I say? Volunteering at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of the coolest jobs around. You don’t even have to be a horticultural expert to join in the fun. Anyone can, even a high school kid like me. I’ve been working a few Saturdays a month in the Conservatory for almost half a year now, and still no day has been like any another. From sweeping, to mulching and grooming, to planting, every day deepens my appreciation of nature and the people that come to admire it here. As fun as these days have been, I would have to say the best was a mere few weeks ago. I was knee high in the fountain by the Conservatory doors, skimming algae. As I worked, the breeze played with my hair, the sun warmed my back, and the sound of laughing children filtered through from the Garden. I could hear the conversations of people taking pictures at the butterfly benches or passing by me to enter the Conservatory. Occasionally, I had to warn an overenthusiastic toddler that jumping into a deep, blue-black dyed pool wasn’t such a hot idea. I pointed out frogs resting on the water lilies to little children and adults alike. Some people came over to ask questions or just share an experience with me. Once in a while, a person would mention how much they appreciate what we volunteers put forth for the gardens. That day, and many others, really embodied what working at Lewis Ginter is about: showing off Mother Nature’s assets while creating an enjoyable atmosphere where anyone can come to appreciate her natural wonders.
So yes, I pity my friends; working at Lewis Ginter is the best. Every day is different. It’s a relaxing and enjoying experience and my time is spent volunteering for a good organization. I meet people whose passion for plants is touching. And most of all, I have the privilege to help maintain a beautiful place with my own labor and say “I helped do this.”