Volunteer FAQ

Q: How do I become a volunteer?
A: Apply online and submit a volunteer application. Schedule and attend an interview.

Q: What is the interview session?
A: An interview session is an opportunity for us to meet you face to face, ask a few questions and get to know you a little more, and a chance for you to get to know us a bit better as well!

Q: What is Theodore Payne Foundation?
A: Theodore Payne Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to California native plants. We operate a native plant nursery and education center at our Sun Valley headquarters.

Q: How do I find out about volunteer opportunities?
A: You will receive a monthly (or sometimes bi-monthly) volunteer E-Newsletter. If there’s something there that you’d like to do, just let us know.

Q: Is there a dress code?
A: Yes, you MUST wear long pants and closed-toe/closed-heel shoes, if you’re volunteering for First Saturday, in the nursery, sales yard, and propagation. Wear comfortable clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty! Hats and sun protection are highly recommended. If you’re helping in the office, shorts are fine. Although it’s not required for most volunteer jobs, a TPF t-shirt makes you recognizable and a bold fashion statement.

Q: Do I get credit for the volunteer hours that I record?
A: You’ll receive $35 toward TPF classes for the first 36 volunteer hours. After that, you’ll receive $1 of class credit per hour of volunteer service. Credit hours never expire!

Q: Do I have to be a member?
A: No, but as a member, you will receive discounts on plants and classes at TPF. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter with planting tips and Foundation news.

Q: Where do I record service hours?
A: Sign in and out on tablet in the Art Gallery at TPF.

Q: I have a lot of free time; can I just drop in to volunteer?
A: Please call or email first.

Q: If I have court-ordered hours or mandatory hours due to a criminal charge, can I complete my hours at TPF?
A: Unfortunately, we do not accept volunteers who have been charged with a crime or are in a diversion program.

Q: Where do I park?
A: During special events, plant sales and on Saturdays, please park on Ledge Avenue, east of the Foundation. During the week, you may park in the lower parking lot (please do not block walkways or stairs).

Q: Do I get a discount on merchandise and classes?
A: In order to receive the discounts, you must purchase a membership. Members get 10% off plants (15% off during seasonal sales) and up to 25% off classes (no discounts on store merchandise).

Q: I am a new volunteer. Can I choose where I want to work?
A: New volunteers are encouraged to start with First Saturday and outreach events that get you familiar with native plants and the Foundation and allow us to get to know you. Choose a volunteer role that’s appropriate for your level; tasks are indicated for Poppy, Sun Cup, or Blazing Star volunteers.

Q: What are the Theodore Payne Wild Flowers? What is the difference between Poppy, Sun Cup, and Blazing Star volunteers?
A: We have a three-tier structure and call our volunteers the “Theodore Payne Wild Flowers.”

  • Poppy – New volunteers with less than 35 hours of service
  • Sun Cup – Volunteers who have completed at least 36 volunteer hours of service and taken “Right Plant: Right Place” class.
  • Blazing Star – Elite volunteers who have completed at least 72 hours of volunteer time, taken at least two classes at TPF, including “Right Plant: Right Place,” and attended our annual Blazing Stars Orientation with TPF staff. These volunteers have attained the skills and knowledge to act as the face of the Foundation and have earned opportunities to work on unique projects with staff.

Q: If I’m volunteering, may I bring my dog?
A: We are dog friendly at TPF, but due to different kinds of volunteer jobs, please ask before you bring Fido along.

Q: Do we have volunteer opportunities for kids?
A: Yes, but children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Q: Do I have to attend a volunteer orientation before I can start volunteering?
A: No, but we have two orientations per year, one around February and another in September, and we encourage you to attend.

Q: When is Theodore Payne Foundation open?
A: Like the seasons, our hours change. From November through June, we’re open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (closed Sunday-Monday). From July through October, we’re open Thursday-Saturday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (closed Sunday-Tuesday).

Q: What are your expectations of volunteers?
A: Be on time. It helps us plan the schedules of staff and other volunteers. If you are running late or cannot make it that day, please call (818) 768-1802

Sign in and sign out. By helping us keep track of your hours, it makes our work a little easier. We are often required to report our volunteer hours to agencies and foundations that fund some of our programs.

Ask questions. Like a job, getting to know what to do on a project takes time. We want to help you do it right and we want to help you learn more.