Archaeology

Since 1987, volunteers have worked side by side with Mount Vernon's archaeologists, researching and restoring the estate. Volunteers assist with fieldwork at an archaeological site and work in the archaeological laboratory.

Archaeological Fieldwork (outdoors):

Duties:  

  • Assist staff archaeologists on an archaeological excavation
  • Excavate test-units with shovels and trowels
  • Screen dirt for artifacts
  • Record archaeological features
  • Interact with, and explain archaeological work to an enthusiastic public audience

Field Qualifications: 

  • Ability to work outside for long durations under hot or cold conditions
  • Ability to lift up to 30 pounds
  • Ability to kneel, stand, and squat for long periods of time
  • Ability to follow direction from staff archaeologists and to work well with others

Archaeological Lab work (indoors):

Duties:  

  • Assist staff archaeologists with artifact processing
  • Wash artifacts that have been collected in the field
  • Make sure artifacts maintain their provenience/context through the artifact-processing process
  • Sort and bag artifacts for study and storage

Lab Qualifications: 

  • Ability to work with artifacts that are recently recovered from an outdoor site
  • Possess strong attention to detail
  • Ability to carefully take and follow direction from staff archaeologists
  • Ability to lift and carry items up to 10 pounds
  • Ability to work well with others in a group setting

Administrative Support

Support for various essential behind-the-scenes activities, including administrative tasks, retail product packaging, and flag flying. Volunteers fly approximately 1,800 flags each year to commemorate various significant events.

Duties:  

  • Assist with departmental projects, educational programs, book talks, and lectures
  • Conduct visitor surveys
  • Staff the reception desk in the main administration building
  • Fly flags and package retail products

Qualifications:  

  • Experience with Microsoft Office 
  • Familiarity with using multi-function desk phones

Guest Services

Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year and hosts a million-plus visitors. This would not be possible without the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers ensure the spirit of Washington’s hospitality is extended to each guest who comes through the estate's main gate. The volunteer's role is visitor engagement and assistance, which is significant since visitors are of enormous importance to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.

Duties:  

  • Interact with a wide range of visitors to assess their interests and expectations for their visit to Mount Vernon
  • Answer visitor’s questions, and provide them with information that enhances their visit

Qualifications:  

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Ability to stand for up to four hours
  • Completion of orientation training 

Historic Character Support

The work of Mount Vernon's unique historical characters would not be possible without volunteer support.

Duties:  

  • Assist employees portraying historic characters
  • Welcome visitors and explain the context of their meeting with historical characters
  • Manage the traffic of visitors

Qualifications:  

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Completion of training for the position

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation is a unique area where volunteers with expertise in historic conservation and restoration can apply their skills to some of Mount Vernon's essential projects. Volunteers have assisted with the painting and installation of windows, recreated embroidered textiles, conducted research, and transcribed historic records.

Duties: 

  • Assist employees conducting historic preservation projects 

Qualifications: 

  • Extensive expertise in historic preservation

Horticulture

Help generally needed from February through November, but work early and late in the season is weather and task-dependent. The Horticulture department supplies all hand tools.

Duties:  

  • Work under the direction of staff carrying out production greenhouse tasks such as transplanting, weeding, seed collecting and cleaning, washing pots, and other general maintenance tasks
  • Help with labeling and pricing plant material for retail sales
  • Assist with design classes, such as dried and fresh wreath making workshops.

Qualifications:  

  • An interest in working with plants, gardening experience preferred
  • Ability to perform physical work, deal with adverse weather conditions (extreme heat, humidity, and cold), and stand for long periods.

Library

Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington opened in 2013.
The library is a resource for scholars, students, and all those interested in George Washington, colonial America, and the Revolutionary and founding eras. Volunteers provide coverage for a multitude of support tasks and often provide that all-important first impression for visitors to the library.

Duties:  

  • Assist with a multitude of support tasks at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
  • Staff the information desk
  • Help with the research, collection, and cataloging of visual resources

Qualifications: 

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Experience using Microsoft Office
  • Familiarity with using multi-function desk phones

Livestock

Mount Vernon is currently home to around 100 animals including several rare breeds that date back as far as the 17th century.  This includes Ossabaw Island hogs, Hog Island sheep, Dominique chickens, Red Devon cattle, draft horses, a donkey, and two cats.   A small and very select number of volunteers have the opportunity to apply their expert animal management skills to the care and feeding of a variety of animals that live on the estate.  Volunteers also assist the Livestock Department staff in providing an accurate and educational interpretation of 18th-century farm life while maintaining modern standards of health care for the animals.

Digital Engagement

A small number of volunteers with Internet, digital media, and writing skills assist the Mount Vernon digital engagement team in preparing and updating information for Mount Vernon's website and virtual learning programs.  

Duties:   

  • Transcribe podcasts produced by the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
  • Edit videos of lectures and presentations for the website
  • Research and prepare material for website publication
  • Tagging website content to widen audience reach

Qualifications: 

  • Good writing and editing skills
  • Experience with online and digital media

Offsite Events

Duties:      

  • Engage in promotional activities in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations 

Qualifications:  

  • Outgoing, with good interpersonal skills
  • Willingness to wear colonial attire

Offsite Shopping

Duties:   

  • Shop at local businesses for food, beverages, and other supplies needed for special events 

Qualifications:  

  • Possess a valid and current driver’s license
  • Ability to lift and carry purchased items

Sewing Guild

The sewing guild is a relatively new activity for volunteers. It is ideal for people who enjoy making and restoring costuming for Mount Vernon's historic trades and historic character personnel.

Duties:   

  • Sew and restore costuming for Mount Vernon’s historical trades and historic character personnel  
  • Create and maintain authentic 18th-century style hand-sewn costume accessories

Qualifications:  

  • Sewing skills

Special Events

These events range from the massive celebration of George Washington's birthday and a new nation's birth to more intimate events such as evening book talks and teas with Martha Washington.

Duties:   

  • Assist with essential tasks at special events at Mount Vernon
  • Greet and hand out programs to guests as they enter the estate
  • Serve as roaming way-finders on the estate, answer visitor questions and direct them to events and activities
  • Demonstrate 18th-century dancing, games, and farm activities

Qualifications:  

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Ability to stand for extended periods (3-4 hours) inside and outside (even in inclement weather)

K-12 and Youth Programs

Volunteers assist the Mount Vernon K12 and Youth Learning Team with a variety of programs. Among them, Hands-on-History, which provides visitors ages 3-10 an opportunity to discover George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Duties:  

  • Assist the Mount Vernon K-12 and Youth Program Team with a broad spectrum of age-appropriate activities, crafts, and games

Qualifications:  

  • Previous experience as a K-12 educator is desirable 

Transportation

Duties:   

  • Drive Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Council Vice Regents and other very important visitors between Mount Vernon, transportation hubs, and specified locations. On occasion, assist Estate staff with specific transportation needs.

Qualifications:

  • Possess a valid and current driver’s license
  • Complete the driver’s orientation program and agree to a background check
  • Be familiar with the location of major transportation hubs in the greater metropolitan area and be comfortable driving into neighboring jurisdictions
  • Possess a smartphone with voice, text, and mapping software capabilities

Wearing Colonial Attire

Duties:

  • Some volunteer activities require the wearing of colonial attire. Mount Vernon maintains a supply of authentic reproduction late 18th-century colonial attire that volunteers can use.  

Qualifications:  

  • Wearing colonial attire is voluntary.  Assignments requiring this attire will be limited to those who agree to this attire.

Become a Volunteer

Learn more about our volunteer program and find out how to apply.

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