The Water Conservation Garden’s Volunteer Program is designed to gather like-minded people of all ages, offering many different opportunities to express their love of gardening. Whether it is digging in the dirt, working an event, leading a tour, meeting and greeting Garden guests or a myriad of other opportunities, we have a place for you here at The Garden!

For more information about becoming a volunteer/docent, please contact Pam Meisner, Education Director, at or 619-660-0614 x13.

How Can I Help?

  • Patron Greeters
  • Gift Shop
  • Guided Tours
  • Community Outreach Events
  • Gardening & Maintenance
  • Special Events
  • Committee Service
  • Internships

Benefits of Being a Volunteer

  • Receive reduced family ($50) or Individual ($40) Garden membership rate
  • Receive 15% (Docents) and 10% (Volunteers) discount in The Garden Gift Shop.
  • Attend optional field trips, workshops and lectures.
  • Attend annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner.
  • Receive discount on rental of The Garden for an event (Docents only).
  • Make a worthwhile contribution to The Garden and community!  Meet people who share an interest in gardening and horticulture.



Volunteers work alongside our Docents and staff on teams or as part of committees. Volunteer commitment level can range from simple clerical assistance to serving on our Board of Directors.

3 steps to become a volunteer

  1. Become a Garden Member
  2. Complete Docent/Volunteer Application
  3. Be contacted by a Docent Representative
  4. Complete docent/volunteer training (two, four-hour sessions) and safety training


Docents represent a dedicated and knowledgeable group who have attained a higher level of training in The Garden’s programs. Docents attend a two-day Orientation Training and fulfill exclusive Docent Trainee requirements.

Docent/volunteer training classes of two 4-hour sessions are typically offered in January, April, July and October. To find dates for the next training, click HERE to go to the classes and events calendar.

2 more steps to become a DOCENT!

  1. Fulfill the Docent Trainee requirements
  2. Perform 48 hours of volunteer service per year

Meet the Volunteer

Name: Whitney Dueñez

Garden Teams: Compost Team Leader

Volunteer Since: 2005

Favorite Plant in the Garden: “How do you pick one!” Each time she tours the garden, Whitney reports that she sees something new. Still, as a former resident of rural east county, she says that she is partial to natives. Among these is buckwheat, just because it is “made for here.” She loves to watch the hummingbirds, butterflies, and lizards that thrive in a garden filled with California native plants.

Fun Facts About: A Master Composter, Whitney also trains others. Last year, Whitney updated her knowledge of The Garden when she joined her husband, as he took the docent training class, and then shared with fellow classmates her passion for composting. Two new docents were inspired to join her and husband, Rick, for regular weekly work at The Garden’s composting exhibit and, furthermore, to complete the five-week Master Composter course.

Some other things to know about Whitney: when younger, she was a nationally ranked springboard diver; she composts at the San Diego Zoo; she clears mustard and other invasive weeds and plants natives as part of habitat restoration work on Mt. Helix.

Favorite Garden Exhibit: The compost exhibit is located in a shady area on one of the main pathways in the garden. Whitney loves it when visitors stop by and she can answer their questions. The exhibit has a variety of compost bins and piles, as well as a worm bin. With so many different ways to compost, anyone can find a style that they can go home and try. The exhibit even has a “volunteer worm bin,” an example of a cool, continuous type of composting that depends entirely on worms that come up from the bottom and feast on weekly additions of food scraps. Whitney calls it “an organic trash compactor!”

Why Do You Volunteer at The Garden: Whitney came to The Garden hoping to contribute by sharing her knowledge and skills. When you ask her about composting, she lights up and says, “I’m a firm believer in the benefits of composting – get a little exercise, get some fresh air, disconnect for a while, save some organic materials from the landfill, and create a wonderful soil amendment or top dressing. Best of all, the scent of compost is truly life affirming. One good whiff will fix you up!” Whitney loves the teaching aspect of The Garden exhibits, especially when kids come through. “They have such good eyes and see all kinds of things; then they go home and talk to their parents, and it’s a lovely cycle.” If that isn’t enough, Whitney adds, “No one admires your compost at home. It’s great that people can see, feel, and smell the compost at The Garden!”