All new donations and pledges received after June 7, 2019 will be doubled up to $200,000! Can you help us get the full match?


Nurturing the land and building community one project at a time!

Volunteer - Whidbey Institute

Volunteer Days are back! 

Join us for Volunteer Days, September 5 through 8 with full work days on the 6th and 7th. Volunteer Days are always fun, rewarding, and meaningful. Come for the full experience or just for a shift or two.

This is your chance to lodge with us at no cost, share meals, and care for the land in community. Register here.

Westgarden Work Parties, Thursdays Throughout the Summer

The Westgarden at the Whidbey Institute is a beloved community medicinal herb and food garden.

Morning work sessions in the Westgarden are followed by a simple shared lunch and an educational herb talk with Westgarden Steward Jules LeDrew!

Westgarden Work Parties start around 10, and we eat lunch at 12:30.

Corporate or service group volunteering

Is your company, organization, club, student group, or social network interested in volunteering together? Reach out to discuss the possibility of a project at any scale.

Service projects are great for groups of any size. Group projects can include tours, educational components, and an optional catered lunch.

Email Marta to learn more.

See more Summer 2019 volunteer opportunities here.

First time volunteer? Fill out the form below to get involved!


Meet Some Superstar Volunteers

A Cohort In Carhartts: Meet volunteer Joel Shrut

“There’s a sense of ownership when you’re sanding a board, or building something. To work on the WI2020 expansion project directly creates a legacy—we’re putting our human energy into the future of this wonderful organization. I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to be a volunteer leader for this work—I have the skillset, and I know who to tap on the shoulder when I don’t.”

Joel said the work thus far has been an easy, low-stress, and highly productive experience. He and a team of skilled volunteers have built 19 beds and rolling dressers to go under them, and have cut, shaped, and sanded live-edge desks made from site-harvested timber.

“Energy is building for a grand completion of this part of the project,” Joel said. “We’ll be welcoming as many volunteers as we can get for finishing the furniture in Thomas Berry Hall in February.”

Reflecting on his long history with the Whidbey Institute and his inspiration to be involved in this way now, Joel compared the organization to a living organism, its health ebbing and flowing in response to challenges and change during its 45 year history. “It seems now that the Whidbey Institute is moving toward real sustainability—a lovely word that often gets used but which can be really challenging to achieve. I’m really impressed with Kate Snider, Heather Johnson, and others on the current team who love the spirit of the place but who also take a practical approach to its future. That’s the exciting part of this whole process: to help the Whidbey Institute move from being an organization with a great dependence on charitable giving to being a self-sustaining organization, with charity as the whipped cream on top.”

Article continues. Read A Cohort in Carhartts here.

Work Worth Doing: Meet Bob Keeney

Robert Keeney is an indispensable member of the Whidbey Institute volunteer team, and frequently comes to the land for a day or a week at a time to build trails, remove hazard trees, clear windfall, and support our land care team with his labor, skill, and wisdom. He’s been coming to Chinook since 2010, and his volunteer hours this year alone add up to about three weeks of full-time service.

Bob helps at the Whidbey Institute with tasks ranging from plumbing to forestry, but he really shines in stewarding our 100 acres of wooded trails. “He always finds a simpler way to do something,” Land Care Coordinator Robert Mellinger said, “and he draws from decades of experience.” Recently, for instance, Bob pulled two trees off roofs using complex rigging and knots he may have learned during a stint as a tugboat deckhand.

“He pays a lot of attention to people’s experiences,” Mellinger went on. “In doing tread work and regrading trails, for instance, he’s thinking of the kinds of people who might use them. Can an elderly person use the trail? A mother with children?”

Staff members appreciate Bob Keeney’s technical skills—his lifetime of experience and his mechanical aptitude—as well as his perception, his powers of observation, and sensitivity for the health of trees and humans alike. “He’s really brilliant at making subtle changes that have a big impact,” said Thomas Anderson, Resident Caretaker. “A lot of the stuff he does is very important but almost invisible.”

Read Work Worth Doing, originally published in 2015.

Partner Spotlight: Meet Mara Grey

Mara Grey—botanist, Celtic harpist, storyteller, master gardener, and author of The Lazy Gardener and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flower Gardening—volunteers as caretaker for the Appletree Garden.

When I spoke with Mara in the shade of the old apple tree, our conversation ranged from organizational history and garden stewardship to ancient languages and the power of story. We spoke of the early garden stewards, like Marybeth Crandall and Wilma O’Nan, and the underlying geometry of the garden paths—three interlocking circles, in the tradition of a knot garden.

“In this garden,” Mara said, “I feel a sense of interconnectedness with the rest of the land. Gardens are like microcosms of dealing with nature.” Discussing what makes gardening “work” or “play,” Mara said she feels the work she does here contributes to the whole organization. “I have a feeling that by bringing the plants here, I’m feeding people. In that way, I do feel a sense of contributing to the work of the Institute. Being here is never work—it’s just plain fun.”

Read Mara’s Partner Spotlight article, originally published in 2015.