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Programs, volunteering, and internships

Educational programs 
Volunteer opportunities 
Internships and practica 

Educational Programs

The Herbarium and its resources are used for both formal and informal education. Several University of Washington Department of Biology courses use specimens and special collections: Introduction to Plant Biology (Bot 110), Plant Identification and Classification (Bot 113), Plant Geography (Bot 350), Morphology and Anatomy of Land Plants (Bot 441), Plant Community Ecology (Bot 456), General Mycology (Bot 461), as well as Wetland Plants (UW Extension). The Collections Manager is frequently consulted on class and research projects by students, faculty, and staff from the departments of Biology, Anthropology, the UW Museology Program, and the College of Forest Resources.

Class groups from both on- and off-campus take tours of the Herbarium. Tours include students at UW enrolled in courses such as Botany 113, and Botanical Illustration offered through UW Extension. Off-campus groups include students from the Wilderness Awareness School College Program, Bastyr University, Evergreen State College, and the Washington Native Plant Society's Native Plant Stewardship program.

Herbarium staff and volunteers have participated in two special family days at the Burke Museum. On Celebrate Native Plants Day, they provided a display of herbarium specimens and demonstrated how to use a plant press. Children participating in the event were able to make and keep their own mini plant presses. Wildflower coloring sheets were also offered. On Mt. Rainier Day, the same activities were offered, with special emphasis on plants of Mt. Rainier.

Students can receive Honors credit in Botany 113 for Herbarium-based projects, and students can earn college credit through practica at the Herbarium. Graduate student research is supported through the loan program with other herbaria.

Volunteer Opportunities

The University of Washington Herbarium is a magnificent botanical resource with over 500,000 dried plants, algae, mosses, liverworts, lichens, and fungi. But it needs constant care and maintenance!

We can use your help to:

  • prepare plant specimens
  • enter data and prepare labels
  • organize archival material
  • research and prepare exhibits

QUALIFICATIONS: Manual dexterity, good attention to detail, and interest in plants. Training is provided. No experience is necessary.

HOURS: The Herbarium can use volunteers Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

COMMITMENT: The minimum commitment is one 3-hour block of time, once a week, for three months. Greater time commitments are of course welcome.

Internships and Practica

In the University of Washington Herbarium Practicum the student will become familiar with herbarium techniques and resources.

CREDIT: Each credit requires 3 hours per week, with a 2 credit minimum. Thus, for 2 credits a student would work in the Herbarium 6 hours per week (60 hours in a quarter) [3 credits, 9 hours/week, 90 hours/quarter]. At the end of the term the student will write and turn in a 1-2 page summary of their experience.

SCHEDULE: The schedule will be arranged individually with the Collections Manager.


  • Vascular plant curation: mount, strap, accession specimens, sort for filing, fumigate (freeze) specimens. The student will gain familiarity and ease mounting many different kinds of plants, including woody plants, herbs, grasses.
  • Basic plant collecting techniques.
  • Loan and exchange program, including how specimens are selected, packaged, sent. Record keeping.
  • Type collection. Definition of holo-, iso-, lecto-, para-, etc. types.
  • Reference materials. Awareness and use of, for example, Index Kewensis, Index Londinensis, Gray Index, Internet resources. How to find answers for common types of questions (e.g. how to find a common name from a scientific name and vice versa; how to find out where is a plant native).
  • Introduction to other collections in the Herbarium: mosses, liverworts, lichens, algae, fungi. Curatorial considerations and organization of these collections. (If student is interested, any of these collections could be the focus of the practicum).
  • Database usage in the Herbarium.

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Cypripedium montanum
Cypripedium montanum (mountain lady-slippers) in Blue Mountains, Washington.
Photo by Richard G. Olmstead