Volunteers play a vital role in the success of landscaping, conservation, programming and outreach efforts at The Gardens at SIUE. Our volunteer program nurtures fun and cultivates camaraderie; our harvest will be a beautiful public garden for all to enjoy.
In 2013, more than 970 volunteers contributed more than 3,200 hours of service. Thanks to the efforts of many, we set a record with more volunteer impact in The Gardens in 2013 than ever before!
Our volunteers help in many ways. What are your interests?
A group or individual tends a garden throughout the growing season
Weekly or semi-monthly commitment (time and day to be determined)
Activities include weeding, watering and general gardening practices
Enhance the aesthetics and manage the landscape using basic horticultural practices including weeding, planting, manicured ornamental garden areas and watering
Natural Areas Volunteers
Enhance and manage natural areas including woodlands, wetlands and prairies to restore and promote ecosystem health
Share information about The Gardens at SIUE with visitors, lead tours and assist during special events
Volunteers are active in The Gardens at SIUE from March to October with opportunities available Tuesday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
What to expect: experience is not necessary! Volunteers will be greeted at The Gardens Center, our visitors’ center and maintenance headquarters, which has restrooms, a break room, lockers and convenient parking. The Gardens Center is located on Arboretum Lane. The Gardens at SIUE will provide tools and materials for volunteer activities. Just bring work clothes, sturdy shoes and a positive attitude!
If you would like to share your time and talents in support of The Gardens, please consider submitting a Volunteer Interest Form or contacting Dan Mueller, park supervisor, by phone (618) 650-3070, or email.
SIUE students can find detailed volunteer schedule information at the Kimmel Leadership Center located in the Morris University Center or by calling (618) 650-2686.
Dr. Ellen Nordhauser
Retired from the SIUE history department, Dr. Ellen Nordhauser decided to become a Master Gardener to meet new people and learn more about gardening, a passion she’d cultivated for many years. Since she finished the program in 2009, Nordhauser has continued to volunteer at The Gardens as well as multiple other gardens in the surrounding area. The recipient of the Master Gardener of the Year Award last year, Nordhauser also does research on prairie plants, has done a vocation on wild flowers and teaches courses on native plants at the Shaw Nature Preserve in Gray Summit, Mo. “In an urban society, we have such a yen for the instant — instant food, instant plants — and we don’t understand where it comes from,” said Nordhauser. “We have no connection to the soil. The kinds of programs planned will allow members of the community to feel ownership and take pride in what grows here.”
Bill Hanke came to The Gardens at SIUE with the original group of volunteers in 2008. He joined the Master Gardener Program through the University of Illinois Extension and served his volunteer hours for the program in The Gardens. Hanke, an Edwardsville native, graduated from SIUE in 1971 with degrees in both geography and sociology. He was excited to give back to the community that has done so much for him. “The Gardens are important because they will protect a large area from further development and showcase the beauty of the natural plant material,” said Hanke. He is now a co-team leader of the Gardens volunteers and enjoys contributing to the community and leaving his mark on The Gardens.
A love for community activities and creating new things brought Chris Krusa to The Gardens. A three-year veteran, Krusa completed the Master Gardener Program though the University of Illinois Extension in 2010 and has continued to volunteer in The Gardens ever since. Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Krusa left his maritime background that included oceanographic surveying and offshore lobster fishing when he moved to the Midwest and discovered his passion for gardening. Krusa enjoys coming up with new ideas for The Gardens, as well as the everyday tasks such as weeding. “The Gardens are a great educational tool for all people,” said Krusa.
Bill Klunk may have been a volunteer in The Gardens for a only short time, but his dedication, interest and knowledge already have made an impact. “Bill’s really upped the ante here in The Gardens since he came from the Master Gardener program last year,” said Dr. Ellen Nordhauser, another Master Gardener volunteer. Nearly done with his volunteer hours to complete his Master Gardener certification, Klunk is excited to continue to help The Gardens thrive. Retired after 36 years as a federal worker and the owner of more than 16 acres of natural conservation land, Klunk spends much of his time gardening. “I have more weeds than you and I could pull in a lifetime,” said Klunk with a laugh. With a specific interest in prairie plants, Klunk hopes to be part of the eventual creation of a natural prairie grasses and plants area of The Gardens.
Rita Skau was on the Madison County Garden Tour in 2011 when she learned about the Master Gardener program. An avid gardener at home, Skau was intrigued, but didn’t rush to sign up. Luckily for her, others involved with the program pushed her to pursue the opportunity by repeatedly asking her to join. In January of 2013, she felt the time was right and has since completed the program and chosen The Gardens as her volunteer home. A native of Glen Carbon and married to an SIUE alumnus, Skau felt it was a natural transition when she came to The Gardens. “I love the people here,” said Skau. “The work they are doing is a true legacy, and I love that too.”