Volunteers in the Butterfly Wing and Conservatory

three people standing inside the Butterfly Wing with buttrflies flying around with plants and flowers

My favorite aspect of volunteering is interacting with our guests, especially our youngest visitors. The enthusiasm they bring into the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing lights up the space, and they always have the most interesting questions! On days when visitors are sparse, especially frigid winter days, relaxing in the Butterfly Wing with a book after a long day of classes is the perfect time to relax, reflect on the week, and enjoy the warmth.

As an undergraduate at Iowa State I visited Reiman Gardens frequently, always enjoying the Butterfly Wing most of all. When I realized that the docents I interacted with were volunteers, I knew I had to volunteer one day. Finally, my coursework and free-time aligned to make volunteering possible, and I took the plunge. I shifted to performing greenhouse scouting in addition to being a butterfly docent when I realized that two hours at the Gardens each week just wasn’t enough!

I’ve been volunteering for a little over six months, but it feels like much longer with how much I’ve already learned! As I started in fall, I’m excited to see what new activities and volunteering opportunities summer brings.

My favorite project is scouting for plant pests in our greenhouse and Conservatory. Not only do I get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful plants in the Gardens, but volunteering itself is like a giant hide-and-seek game, as I search out minuscule critters and do my best to identify them. In addition, my own plants at home are flourishing, as I can now identify and treat their pests.

I’m so excited to see the Sycamore Falls project progress this coming year! I’ve been watching construction since it began, and am eager to visit when completed. As a veterinary student and avid plant-lover, I also can’t help but be excited for the “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks” and “Ribbit the Exhibit” exhibits, as they connect my two passions in such creative ways.

-Josephine L.