Steps to Becoming a Volunteer at MSU Tollgate Farm

  • Contact one of our area leads to find out how your skills and interests match up with our various volunteer projects. Area lead information can be found in each project area description. General inquires about volunteering can be directed to Carmen Hamilton at hamil466@msu.edu.
  • All volunteers are required to complete the Michigan State University Volunteer Selection Process. This process helps to provide a safe volunteering and work environment for both adults and youth. Volunteers who are unsupervised or will work with youth must complete an application, background check, interview, and provide references. To learn more about this process, contact Carmen Hamilton at hamil466@msu.edu
  • Once you have completed the Volunteer Selection Process an area project lead will work directly with you to ensure you have the proper training and orientation to successfully volunteer at the farm.

Volunteer Project Areas

Garden and Maple Sugaring Volunteering

The MSU Tollgate Garden and Maple Syrup Project volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals with a love for gardening or maple sugaring and a passion for sharing their knowledge. Our mission is to assist, enable and encourage our members to use their knowledge and experience to help people of southeast Michigan to enrich their lives through gardening, good gardening practices, natural resources management, and maple sugaring. Anyone is welcome to join. We do not have a membership fee, though contributions are accepted as a means to defray expenses. Individuals interesting in earning MSU Extension Master Gardener hours are often interested in volunteering with our programs but this is not a requirement to participate. Our garden web-page provides more information about the types of gardens at the farm.

A Garden Volunteer Membership Form is completed on an annual basis. 

You can also check out our New Garden Volunteer Orientation presentation

Questions about volunteering in our gardens? Please contact our MSU Tollgate Farm Manager Roy Prentice at prentic1@msu.edu.

View a calendar of MSU Tollgate's garden volunteer opportunities here: Garden Volunteer Calendar 

The Garden Volunteer Newsletter is the primary way that news, events and information is communicated with the garden volunteers. Any volunteer is welcome to submit an article of interest to the editor, subject to approval of the MSU Tollgate Farm Gardens Advisory Committee.  Since some members still receive this newsletter via postal service we do not include advertisements or listings of other garden club’s events due to space and cost issues.  With this web site you can access current and back issues using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Click here for free download of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Garden Newsletter September 2021

Garden Newsletter October 2021

Garden Newsletter November 2021

Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Volunteering

There are many volunteer opportunities to support educational staff with direct instruction and office work for community events, school programs, and summer camps. Volunteers are extremely important in helping our farm team provide services to southeast Michigan. Not all volunteer opportunities qualify as Extension Master Gardener hours. If in doubt, please consult your Master Gardener coordinator. 

If you are interested in helping with programs at MSU Tollgate Farm related to agriculture, natural resources, and sustainability education for youth and adults, please send your name, email address, and phone number to either:

Ellen Koehler, MSU Tollgate Farm Education Coordinator, at koehle43@msu.edu.

Sara Mund, MSU Tollgate Farm Summer Camp Coordinator, at mundsara@msu.edu.

Corporate and Organization Volunteering

Does your organization support individual or group volunteering? There are always large group tasks to be done at the farm from painting to parking cars at large events.

Contact Roy Prentice, MSU Tollgate Farm Manager, at prentic1@msu.edu for site maintenance tasks.

Contact Ellen Koehler, MSU Tollgate Farm Education Coordinator, at koehle43@msu.edu for event volunteering.

Farm Operations and Site Maintenance Volunteering

Work never ends at a farm. We are always looking for individuals that want to use their hands to make a difference. Everything from gardening, pathway maintenance, mowing lawn, painting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and more often needs to be done at the farm. All skill levels are welcome but we are particularly interested in individuals willing to use their professional trade-skills to support the farm.

Contact Roy Prentice, MSU Tollgate Farm Manager, at prentic1@msu.edu.

Livestock Care Volunteering

MSU Tollgate Farm houses horses, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. Livestock are used as learning opportunities for our programs and a means for revenue generation. Volunteers may support the care of livestock on the farm by assisting with chores and other tasks around the farm. We place an even greater emphasis on finding the correct individuals to volunteer with livestock because of health and safety concerns. Interested individuals should approach volunteering with livestock as if it were a job application. We are particularly interested in individuals with prior experience and consistent availability. 

Contact Sam Stokes, MSU Tollgate Farm Interim Livestock Coordinator, at stokess4@msu.edu to express your interest. Please provide a cover letter and resume.

Sustainable Agriculture Production Volunteering

Interested in learning about sustainable agriculture? Volunteering with our sustainable agriculture team as they operate our Community Supported Agriculture Program is a great way to learn about agriculture in a hands-on setting. We place additional emphasis on finding the right individuals to volunteer in this capacity because of the health and safety requirements of working in organic vegetable production. Experience with farming and a deep dedication to training and safety are a must for volunteers interested in this project area.

Contact Darby Anderson, MSU Tollgate Farm Sustainable Agriculture Instructor, at ande2010@msu.edu.

Administrative and Office Support Volunteering

The farm can greatly benefit from expertise with writing, editing, marketing, video editing, graphic design, fundraising, program development, data management, human resources, volunteer management, accounting, and other professional skills. We also greatly appreciate help with bulk low-skill tasks like laminating, packing envelopes, preparing crafts, and many other task. Each task is specific to a program or project.

Contact Carmen Hamilton, MSU Tollgate Farm Educational Leader, at hamil466@msu.edu.

4-H Youth Development Volunteering

MSU Tollgate Farm hosts the MSU Tollgate Farm 4-H Club. The 4-H Club is a group of kids and adult volunteers learning about sustainable agriculture. This club began as part of Michigan State University’s 4-H Youth Gardens and Farm Stands Project. Hands-on farm-based activities provide the produce, eggs, soap or other farm products  for sale at farm stands. Thinking through the business activities of producing, pricing, advertising and selling builds teamwork and leadership skills. 

If you are interested in volunteering to support the 4-H Club efforts contact:

Debbie Morgan, Oakland County 4-H Program Coordinator, at morga194@msu.edu