Volunteering in the Upstate

The Upstate Chapter is one of the most dynamic in the state and we have oodles of opportunities that not only serve the organization’s mission but also give you an opportunity to further your own interests and learning!


We keep a running list of current volunteer needs HERE.

For general information about areas where we ALWAYS need help (the more, the merrier!), read on!


The Upstate Chapter launched their own nursery operation in 2012 and currently maintains an inventory of 3-5,000 native plants in our nursery, most of which we propagate ourselves either from seed or by vegetative reproduction. Often our selection includes as many as 150 different species, many of which are difficult to find elsewhere. And, twice a year, we throw a huge sale, sending our native plants out into the world!

The Greenhouse Gang tends to the propagation, care, and feeding of these plants. The Gang sometimes meet in groups (in non-Covid years) for a few hours of social time while propagating the thousands of plants we grow each year. This is an ideal opportunity to learn more about vegetative and seed propagation from an experienced team. Once trained and acclimated, you’ll be all set to work on your own in the tranquil nurturing environment of our greenhouse.

Got more time to commit? These plants require a range of conditions from full-sun to full-shade, differing water requirements, and are susceptible to a variety of pathogenic and insect pests. It takes a sharp eye to monitor that they are getting all they need; we want to make sure they look their best and are strong and healthy, giving them the best chance of success in their new homes! So, if you’d like to help us maintain them on a more consistent basis, we’d be happy to train you to work independently on a rotating schedule. The rotation runs daily in the summer months, but is reduced to once a week in the winter months. The team usually numbers about a dozen, so even in the summer it’s easy to adjust the schedule to fit everyone’s availability.


Each year, we host a major plant sale in the Spring and another in the Fall. It takes several dozen people to pull that off!  Volunteers help get the nursery ready for the sales, take inventory, record the orders, pull the plants, process the payments, and help keep the nursery looking great. (Bonus: Volunteers get first crack at purchasing the plants!)

  • No experience necessary, just bring your enthusiasm! Contact Plant Sale Chair Kathy Harrington.


Volunteers from Upstate SCNPS, Upstate Master Naturalists, and Master Gardeners of the Foothills take care of a beautiful native plant demonstration garden located at the Pickens County Museum, and new volunteers are always welcome. Volunteers gather on the first and third Tuesdays of each month to plant, weed, and generally tend the garden. They generally meet at 8am in warm months and 9am in cold months, working until about 11am. Once they’ve been oriented to the garden, volunteers are welcome to come on other days, as well. The museum address is 307 Johnson St, Pickens, SC 29671.

  • Joining this informal crew is a great way to learn about SC native plants in all seasons. Contact Carol Asalon for more information!


Creative opportunities abound in this dynamic team working with an array of media tools to get the important conservation messages out to our community.  Our media outlets include traditional press releases, our website, e-mails, newsletters, print, and digital social media. If you’ve got skills in graphic design, photography/video, writing/editing, marketing, publicity, social media, or website design/implementation (we use WordPress!), we’d love to hear from you.

  • If you’re interested in learning more, contact Publicity Committee Chair Cynthia Gibson, and let’s put you to work!


This committee keeps tabs on the many opportunities in the Chapter and can help match your time and skills to the ideal opportunity. Most of these are easily ‘scalable,’ meaning the level of commitment can be adjusted to your level of availability and desire. We truly believe that “every little bit counts,” so whatever skill (or lack thereof!) you have, and however much time you have to offer, we’ll be happy to plug you in somewhere where you can make a contribution and have fun doing it!

For more points of contact with the Upstate Chapter (and beyond), visit the About Us page.


Take a moment to read about the contributions of some of our most outstanding volunteers in the Upstate!

Jim Fowler:  Naturalist

One of the earliest members of the Upstate Native Plant Society, Jim Fowler has been a prolific contributor for many years.  Having spent years of field research on native orchids and carnivorous plants, Jim is has become a leading expert in his field of study as a naturalist.  His books and native plant images and information online provided valuable content to the science, and he was honored by the U.S.Postal Service with the publication of Wild Orchids Forever Stamp collection in 2020.

Jim took his last photography field trip on Mount Mitchell in June 2021.  Read more about this incredible member and his contributions on native plants research and our society in Bill Stringer’s Remembering Jim Fowler.

Miller and Kitty Putnam

A simple dream begun by Kitty & Miller Putnam that intersected with an opportunity to benefit their community.  The non-profit South Carolina Native Plant Societies Upstate Native Nursery is the Putnam’s legacy, a story begins almost two decades ago, and continues today as a tremendously popular program for the Upstate community.  Read about more about how this delightful couple’s vision and energy have inspired so many volunteers over the past two decades, and still going strong!






Steve and Janie Marlow

Retiring after more than 16 years of service to the Society, Steve and Janie have been (and continue to be) exemplary models of outstanding volunteers.  Their particular contribution has been in the area of publicity with both having served as editors to the Upstate Happenings newsletter, and Steve as the Chair for the Home and Garden Show while Janie created the Wild Plants on the Rabbit brochure and maintains the incredible NameThatPlant website.




Innovations Award Goes to Kathy Harrington

To be certain there is lots of credit to share regarding our Upstate Native Nursery and the annual sales, but when we were preparing for the Spring 2020 sale, Kathy Harrington realized we needed to make some changes.  We had been using Square.com for a while as our e-commerce tool but under Kathy’s guidance, we enabled a completely new online ordering process using the app for both inventory control and sales and also for unassisted plant pick-ups.  It not only allowed us to continue providing the vital service of providing our Upstate community with native plants, but set a record year in plant sales.  Since the plant sales are our primary funding tool, the benefits of Kathy’s leadership will have a lengthy and wide-reaching impact.