A new year signals a new beginning and brings optimism for good things to come. While we remain under COVID-19 restrictions, UCR is planning a return to in-person classes in fall and we eagerly anticipate bringing back some on-site events. In the meantime, our staff and volunteers have continued to make progress on garden and landscape projects and launch wonderful new online and virtual initiatives.
One area of recent focus for us has been our volunteer program, which is vitally important to the success of any botanic garden. With our closure due to COVID-19 in March 2020 and loss of volunteers for two months, our informal, in-person style of volunteer management was no longer viable. Since that time we have implemented a new online process for volunteer recruitment, onboarding, scheduling, and hours reporting. We also use UCR's online system for COVID-19 training, testing, and daily wellness checks, and volunteers as well as staff continue to practice all necessary safety precautions while working in the Gardens.
The imposition of more bureaucratic and impersonal processes for managing our volunteer program have greatly helped us ensure health and safety of all yet give little opportunity beyond another email to show our great appreciation for our volunteers. Without them we would not have been able to reopen with Stewards at the entrance gate, recover from constant weed growth, clean up and widen trails for visitor safety, prune nearly 600 roses, host in-person pickups for online plant sales, record over 20 videos on native plants in the Gardens, and much more. We are truly grateful for everyone who chooses to donate his or her time to volunteer in the Gardens and will continue to look for creative ways to show our appreciation!
We have finally begun recruiting for new volunteers in targeted areas of current need, including Stewarding at the gate and weeding/pruning/cleanup in the geographic gardens. With campus approval we are also now able to recruit student volunteers. Although onboarding and COVID-19 safety processes might seem onerous, our volunteers have assured us that they are well worth it for the fun, fitness, and satisfaction they receive from donating time to the Botanic Gardens. If any of you reading this want to find out more about joining our intrepid team of volunteers, visit our website volunteer page (https:// gardens.ucr.edu/ volunteer), submit the online Volunteer Interest Form, and be prepared to have a fun and satisfying adventure!
As this new year unfolds we look forward to the return of more normalcy and the opportunity to expand our open hours to welcome more of you to the Gardens. Please stay connected through our website, eNews, and social media to find out what's new. I welcome your ideas and feedback at email@example.com or 951-827-7095.