Tennessee Naturalist Program

Volunteer Options

service pinsVolunteer opportunities are always available with any of the TNP Chapters, especially the chapter that provided your training.

Volunteer Log

Other ways to volunteer include any Tennessee State Park, city parks, nature centers, schools, scouting groups and citizen science projects. After completing 40 hours of training and the first 40 hours of volunteer work, a trainee becomes a Tennessee Naturalist and is awarded their first pin.

When a Tennessee Naturalist completes an additional 10 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer work they will receive a new pin indicating "50 Hours", then pins for "100 Hours", "150 Hours" and "200 Hours". After that, 20 hours of training and 80 hours of volunteer service are required to be awarded the "300 Hours" and "400 Hours" pins. More volunteer service pins will be added as the need arises.

Tennessee Plant Atlas

The botany community in Tennessee is developing an online Tennessee Plant Atlas in conjunction with Kentucky. This joint site will feature distribution maps, descriptions, detailed photos, digitized herbarium specimens, and other data for all plant taxa found in the two states. As the site is being built, work to digitize 900,000 plant specimens in Tennessee is also taking place. High resolution images of each specimen only include species, state, and county information. Other data from the specimen labels must be entered by hand at a later date. Help is needed to append this additional label data to each image, and the work can be done from home using a personal computer. Special plant knowledge is not required, only the ability to read and type!

This is a great opportunity for Tennessee Naturalist Volunteers to make an important contribution while earning hours toward certification or continuing credit volunteer hours. Please consider helping with this worthwhile effort. If you would like to participate, follow these directions.

UPDATE: Reaching out to Tennessee here... please help to digitize Tennessee's biodiversity data! Go to the website: NotesFromNature (https://www.notesfromnature.org/active-expeditions/Herbarium). Create a log in. Then select Tennessee Ferns part 2 – these are specimens from Tennessee Tech, UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, and Rhodes College. In the next round, we’ll be adding Austin Peay and MTSU. After a 2-minute tutorial, you can start to enter label data. With your log in, it will keep up with your statistics (e.g., specimens done). If you don’t create a log in, then it won’t track your stats. You DO NOT have to be a licensed botanist or be able to diagnose species, only someone who can read and type! And, you'll learn some fern species!

Invasive Plant Removal and Monitoring

Contact Brian Bowen or Brian Ross of the Natural Areas Program for what, when, and where assistance is needed for removal and monitoring of invasive plants. Additional training may be needed for some activities. Email brian.bowen@tn.gov or call 615-532-0436.

Tennessee State Parks

Volunteers interested in helping our state parks can go to the TN State Parks website to choose the section of the state where they want to volunteer. A wide range of opportunities are available.

National Wildlife Refuges in Tennessee

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has numerous Wildlife Refuges in Tennessee and a need for volunteers. Check their website to learn what is near you.

Chapter Volunter Needs

All of our chapters need experienced and knowledgeable volunteers to help fulfill each chapters' mission. Below are some of the posted needs of each chapter:

Audubon Acres, Chattanooga: Visitor Center Host, Trail Building & Maintenance, Grounds Maintenance, Building Maintenance, Interpreter/Guide, Educational Programming, Special Events. Complete this form.

Bay's Mountain, Kingsport: Astronomy, Exhibit Construction, Farmstead, Herpetarium, Nature Center, Raptor Center, School Programs, Special Events, Trail Maintenance. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator’s office at (423) 229-9449 or send e-mail to RobCole@KingsportTN.gov.

Cedars of Lebanon, Lebanon: Trail maintenance, Grounds keeping, Painting, Trash removal, Construction of simple structures, Removal of invasive species. Contact Ranger Zach Tinkle by email at zach.tinkle@tn.gov or by phone at 615-443-2769.

Ijam's Nature Center, Knoxville: Naturalists/Interpreters, Park Maintenance, Special Events, Office Work. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Lauren Bird, at (865) 577-4717 ex 135 or email lbird@ijams.org.  

Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis: Horticulture/Gardening, Garden Tours/Docent, Youth Education and Activities, Office Work. Volunteer HERE.

Owl's Hill, Brentwood: Programs, Trail Maintenance, Garden Clean-up, Special Events. Contact Julie at (615) 370-4672 or email info@owlshill.org.

South Cumberland, Monteagle: Denny Cove Trail Work, Visitor Center Help, Trail Assessments. Contact info here.

More Volunteer Opportunities

Places to volunteer in the Memphis area:
Shelby Farms Park: Coral O'Connor: coconnor@shelbyfarmspark.org
Lichterman Nature Center: janie.paraham@memphistn.gov
Overton Park Conservancy: info@overtonpark.org

Check this list for Volunteer Opportunities (also provided on your TNP flashdrive).