The Power of Volunteers

From sprucing up the nursery to spreading mulch, cleaning up the site, being a Meadowkeeper, and orchestrating plant sales, volunteers provide the power that sustains the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, year after year. The efforts of our volunteers bring in thousands of dollars in fundraising and save thousands of dollars in expenses for the Arboretum. We are always welcoming new volunteers, and there are many ways you can help:  

Hodge Podge Nursery

volunteers gathered around the garden soil binThe 14-acre property known as Hilltop was donated to LSU by Emory Smith, a retired postal worker with a decided passion for plants, particularly those native to Louisiana. In the interest of sharing his enthusiasm, he shared and encouraged the sharing of plants. The “Hodge Podge” group has followed his lead by giving the Arboretum’s friends the opportunity to scour their gardens for plants in need of a new home. From its humble beginnings as a quiet corner at the annual plant sale, the Hodge Podge has blossomed into a volunteer small-nursery operation. This dedicated group of volunteers gathers most Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. until noon to propagate and pot plants, weed, water, make plant ID signs, attach price tags, etc. They also maintain the nursery – fixing plant tables and repairing wagons. The day always ends with a potluck lunch. All are welcome! Just show up to become a member of the Hodge Podge. 
Email us to receive our weekly Hodge Podge newsletter.  

PlantFest and Spring Fling Plant Sales

Volunteers putting labels on plantsWork begins long before these events occur annually in April and October. The volunteer Plant Selection Committee strives to select just the right plants for our customers’ needs. To prepare for the sale, volunteers inventory plants, make lists of tags needed, print thousands of plant tags, and attach each label; they make plant ID signs and drive to nurseries to pick up plant orders; they unload plant orders, set up tents, work traffic control, and adjust irrigation systems. Volunteers manage our gift shop, Vendors Village, Children’s Tent, and Yarden sale, and a volunteer watering crew ensures plants remain healthy up to the sale.  During the sales, we recruit volunteer plant experts, tally instructors, gift shop and Yarden salespeople, and cashiers spring into action. LSU students, scouts, and youth volunteers serve as wagon helpers and assist with our children’s tent. 
Calls for Plant Sale volunteers will be sent out via email to our volunteer list. 

Storm and Hurricane Cleanup

hurricane damage showing blocked walking pathsWith felled trees and debris, Hilltop is often unsafe to drive through the parking lot after a major storm. After major events, we rely on nearby volunteers to help with initial storm clean up, making the parking lot and paths accessible. Hilltop and community volunteers are then called upon to clear out tree debris and further clear the pathways. If you can safely access Hilltop, we always appreciate the extra help (and tools!). 
Calls for Storm Cleanup volunteers will be sent out via email to our volunteer list, and in these instances, sometimes phone. 

Meadow Workdays and Seed Scattering

3 people studying plants in meadowIn the fall and spring, volunteers are called upon to assist with removing invasives and reseeding Hilltop’s beautiful 3-acre meadow. 
Meadow workday notices will be emailed to our volunteer list, posted on social media, and on our website. 


Interested in working year-round to help tend to our meadow and help us identify and log the sprouting seedlings? We invite community members and LSU students interested in learning more about native plants to become a Hilltop Meadowkeeper. 
If you would like to be a Meadowkeeper, please let us know!

Site Work Days

scouts working to remove unwanted plantsHilltop hosts Saturday site workdays several times per year to assist with spreading gravel in the pathways, mulching trees, removing invasive species from the site, and clearing out overgrowth to make way for new growth. Volunteers include individuals, families, students, and Scouts. 
Site Workday notices will be emailed to our volunteer list, posted on social media, and on our website.

Site-Specific Work

Scouts building a nursery tableSeveral volunteers assist us year-round with specific site needs. A volunteer maintains the bamboo pass; another maintains our seasonal lights. A tractor-owning neighbor bushhogs the meadows and clears the perimeter overgrowth in his spare time. Boy Scouts and other volunteer groups looking for service hours have undertaken woodworking projects such as constructing nursery tables and footbridges. 
If you have an area of interest that you’d like to share with us, please let us know!  

It’s Not All Outside

We believe there is something for everyone at Hilltop! If plants aren’t your thing and you would like to help in other ways, we are always accepting help with tasks such as: sorting seeds, addressing and stuffing envelopes, copying, laminating, writing our blog, managing social media postings, deep cleaning our kitchens, etc. 
If you are looking to work your own hours or on our “it’s not all outside” projects, let us know how you’d like to help! 

More Information

Let us know your volunteer interests. We send weekly reminders for Hodge Podge Nursery activities, and for other volunteer events as needed. Master gardeners received Service Credit for all Hilltop volunteer activities. Questions? Call 225-767-6916 or email

Interested in Volunteering at Hilltop?

Hodge Podge Work Days 
Most Wednesdays

Meadow Work Days
Check back for our next scheduled workday.

Email with your area of interest. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date on upcoming events.