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Volunteers working in the Holly Collection area during Earth Day 2024.

More than 150 volunteers attended our annual Earth Day at the Arboretum work-service event on Saturday, April 20. They worked all morning under the supervision of the UW Botanic Gardens horticulture staff, with logistical support from Seattle Parks and Rec, to remove invasive weeds from natural areas and collection beds, and to spread protective mulch—donating 540 volunteer hours to the park!

As part of the Arboretum’s 90th birthday celebration series, the volunteers enjoyed cupcakes at the Graham Visitors Center at the end of their shift. In the afternoon, members of the public also enjoyed some birthday celebration activities, including a food truck, pollination station, a cupcake giveaway, and free electric tram rides around the Arboretum Loop Trail.

Volunteer and staff group photo on Crabapple Meadow before the work-service event.

The event began at 9 a.m. with a volunteer gathering and greeting on Crabapple Meadow. In turn, Jane Stonecipher of the Arboretum Foundation, Christina Owen of UW Botanic Gardens, and Karen Stener of Seattle Parks and Recreation all welcomed the volunteers. They spoke about the legacy of Earth Day, the importance of caring for our public lands, and how the Arboretum is a vital natural resource for our city—and for the conservation of plant species from around the globe.

The volunteers then split up and walked to their assigned project sites. Work took place at seven locations around the Arboretum: Foster Island, South Pinetum, Holly Collection, Legume Collection, Rhododendron Glen, Aesculus Trail, and the Japanese Garden Parking Lot. The volunteers worked for three hours, pulling weeds (primarily English ivy) and spreading wood-chip mulch. UW Botanic Gardens’ horticulture manager Joanna Long estimates that the volunteers removed a total of 36 cubic yards of weeds and spread 56 cubic yards of mulch. Come see the results of their fabulous work!

Volunteers working in Rhododendron Glen during Earth Day 2024.

To celebrate the Arboretum’s 90th birthday this year, we added a few extra treats and activities to our regular work-service event. These included babycakes from Cupcake Royale for our volunteers at the end of their shift. At the Graham Visitors Center in the afternoon, members of the public also enjoyed a pollination station hosted by UW Botanic Garden education staff, a food truck (Yummy Gyros), and a cupcake giveaway (free to the first 90 visitors, in celebration of 90 years of the Arboretum!). From 2 to 4 p.m., our UW partners also provided free electric tram rides to the public around the Arboretum Loop Trail.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this special day at the Arboretum, in particular our volunteers and our partners at UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation! Special thanks to Vision House for joining us as a community partner for the event. And to Oxbow for their generous donation of bagels! Thanks also to the Student Conservation Association for helping with volunteer recruitment and to the UW capstonse students working on the restorefosterisland project.

Mulch spreading at the Japanese Garden parking lot.

Finally, thanks to the many local businesses and organizations that sent volunteer groups to Earth Day at the Arboretum: Amazon, Bridge Partners, Color Creative, Duke University Alumni, Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., HBB Landscape Architecture, Nestle, Unify Consulting, Microsoft’s Sustainability Connected Community, JAS Design Build, University Gathering, HDR, Inc.

Weed warriors at the Aesculus Trail site.

Volunteers at the South Pinetum site.

Volunteers at the Legume Collection project site.