Dec 14th, 2014

Volunteers Make GardenFest Magic Happen

volunteer Jim Schiele  -- and kids looking in awe

Volunteer Jim Schiele “conducting” the trains & creating holiday magic for the thousands of kids who visit Dominion GardenFest of Lights.

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

If you’ve been to Dominion GardenFest of Lights before,  you will recognize some of our volunteers who come back, year after year, donating their time to a place that is near to their hearts, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Did you know that we have over 200 volunteers who help prepare for GardenFest and they end up working nearly 4,000 hours throughout the GardenFest season?  Volunteers in the North Wing of the Conservatory engage visitors, explaining about this year’s bike theme. Volunteers in the Kelly Education Center  welcome and greet you, and the volunteers in the Library can tell you all about the doll houses and make sure you don’t miss warming up by the gas logs in the Library Reading Room. Volunteers will even take your family photo in front of the Conservatory Tree. (Last year one lucky volunteer even got to take a photo of a young man proposing to his fiance in the Conservatory! #SheSaidYes)  Volunteers work in the Garden Shop, the will call desk, and even take tickets at the front door.

Jim Schiele is one of many, many, dedicated volunteers that the Garden is blessed to have. You’ll see him most nights as a “conductor” and “engineer” working behind the interactive train display in the Kelly Education Center.
“Jim Schiele – he is amazing,” Volunteer Manager Darlene Van Laan says,   “His positive outlook prevails — he loves to engage guests of all ages. He is a former teacher – his students love to visit with him. He works many nights, both shifts if we need him …he helped design and build our displays since we began having trains.”

So this post is dedicated to Jim and all the other Garden volunteers. We appreciate you!

If you are a visiting GardenFest and notice a volunteer with their signature lanyard name badge, please, bring some holiday cheer and thank them for sharing part of their day with us, working here so that you and your family can experience some GardenFest  magic.

volunteer Jim Schiele working with the trains.

Volunteer Jim Schiele working the train display, where you’ll find him most nights during the holiday season.

Jonah Holland is PR & Marketing Coordinator at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, specializing in social media. She's been known to go for a walk, and come back completely inspired to write a blog post on her newest found adventure.

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  • Julie Abbott

    Jonah, thank you for the post on Jim Schiele and salute to volunteers. Jim has been especially faithful with the train displays over the years.

    • Thanks Julie! As one of our most dedicated volunteers, you would know. We have hundreds of volunteers I’d love to feature. And Jim is just a symbol of them. Thank you for all you do for the Garden.