Happy 25th Anniversary Red Butte Garden Volunteer Program!
A big thank you to all the volunteers who have helped this program grow over the last 25 years. We are so grateful for all that you have contributed to make Red Butte Garden as beautiful as it is today. Here's to another 25 amazing years!
Here at the Garden we are always looking for ways to enhance your volunteer experience. To help get your feedback in this process, we have a new evaluation for you to provide feedback at your convenience. You can answer as many or as few questions as you wish, and these evaluations can be accessed at any time you would like to provide feedback. Active volunteers, please take a few moments of your time to fill out the evaluation found here:
Evaluation for Active Volunteers
For volunteers who have been with the Garden but are no longer joining us, please fill out the exit evaluation found here:
As Red Butte Garden volunteers, we take pride in our efforts to support the Garden by working alongside the staff, with dedication and passion to ensure the Garden’s success.
Volunteering at Red Butte Garden is an opportunity for us to support a community treasure, increase our knowledge, develop and share our interests and skills, create long-lasting friendships with dedicated individuals and have our efforts valued and appreciated.
In 1988, the Red Butte Garden that volunteer Beverly Sudbury (Bev) was first introduced to would be unrecognizable to today’s visitors. At that time, the formal gardens, which now consist of 18 acres, were only two small beds located on each side of the waterfall in the lower gardens; what we now know as the Amphitheater was a University of Utah waste site, filled with an immense amount of paper and other material. No Rose Garden, no Terrace Gardens, no Children’s Garden — just the vast 100 acres of open, somewhat disturbed land that had been transferred from Fort Douglas to the University of Utah and opened in 1985 to the public as Red Butte Garden.
Bev’s first time volunteering for the Garden was at a plant sale. Having recently completed Master Gardener classes, she felt that she and her husband, Don, would have something unique to offer. They spent a day labeling, pricing, and setting up for the sale. From there, a budding acquaintance with gardener Rodger Whittaker brought Bev and Don into the Garden itself. After planting the two original lower-garden beds with annuals, then with perennials transplanted from their own home garden, the Sudbury’s began to watch the Garden grow into the marvel it is today.
Bev and Don, along with Mary Jo Reiter and Janice Tolhurst in the Greenhouse, and Craig and Sue Pyper in the administrative offices, became the seeds and roots of Red Butte Garden’s Volunteer Program which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Following Don’s death in 2003 (visitors can see his memorial bench southwest of the Water Pavilion, where he and Bev first began to cultivate the Garden), Bev realized that she was unable to work in the Garden without him. Unwilling to give up Red Butte Garden as a personal sanctuary, she stayed involved in other ways by joining the Garden Guides and School Programs volunteers. Bev found a new passion in sharing the Garden with others and took comfort in the new ways the Garden could fulfill her.
Speaking with Bev today, it is clear that the Garden did not let her down. She is brimming with stories of school children who touched her heart as she led them on field trips through the Garden and of meeting visitors with whom she is still in touch. According to Bev, another important reason she has stayed at the Garden for 25 years is, “The staff: it is always changing, but is always great. They take me as I am; they accept the way I do things, even if it’s not by the book.”
Bev’s characteristic modesty is seen here, as Bev is not just accepted by the staff, but whole-heartedly embraced for all she has given and continues to give to the Garden. I learned early on in my time at the Garden that Bev is, at the very least, a Garden institution; the amount of love and respect that the staff holds for Bev is overwhelming and the ways that she has touched so many of us is remarkable. Having asked the staff about their experiences with Bev, I realized quickly that all the stories and kind words for her could never fit into a one-page article. Greenhouse Coordinator Michelle Cook comments, “Bev is a ray of sunshine; it’s no wonder her plants grow so well. She is wonderful in sharing her knowledge in a kind, encouraging, inspiring way. She is hardworking, dedicated, and thoughtful in all that she does.” Chris Mautz, the Garden’s concert manager, says of Bev, “I truly believe that her spirit and service have shaped the Garden in more ways than we know. Red Butte Garden is a better place because of Bev, and I am grateful to call her a friend.” I am too. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I am constantly impressed by Bev’s dedication and kindness, her energy and enthusiasm, and her limitless love for the Garden and everyone who sets foot in it.
As someone who has been personally touched and changed by the Garden, and the relationships I have found here, I find it impossible to not share Bev’s final interview words. After being asked what she would want people to know about volunteering at Red Butte Garden, she says, “You need people in your life; you need someone to share your life with. You can find that at the Garden. It helps to have a reason to get up and do something, to not just sit at home. [Volunteering at the Garden] is like being married — it might not always be smooth, simple, and agreeable, but the overall thing is worth it. Always.”
Don't forget to keep track of your volunteer hours!
Volunteer Time Sheet
Submit your hours each June 1st and Nov 1st to:
Red Butte Garden
300 Wakara Way,
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Fax: (801) 587-5887