Thanks to the generous help of volunteers, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative has been able to protect and restore thousands of hemlocks across western North Carolina. As of August 2020, more than 280 amazing individuals have contributed over 3,600 hours to hemlock conservation, restoration and research. Read more about the opportunities available to volunteers below. If you would like to join our volunteer team to support HRI’s mission, sign up here.

Here’s how you can help:


  • Volunteers measure a hemlock at Holmes State Forest

    • Chemically treat hemlocks on public lands
    • Use paddling skills to reach and treat hemlocks
    • Assist with the biological control program
    • Assist our partners in hemlock conservation research
    • Help facilitate a hike, workshop, or tabling event
    • Share any other talents you have with us!


    Hemlock Helpers – Hemlock Treatment Team

    Volunteers protecting trees at Black Mountain Campground

    Our dedicated team of hemlock helpers assist our staff in chemically treating hemlock trees to protect them from hemlock woolly adelgid. These volunteers make a huge difference in helping us treat more hemlocks every year than we could without their help.

    Volunteer treatment days are typically day-long events out in the field working side-by-side with HRI staff in state forests, parks, or game lands and are a great way to learn more about hemlocks and the issues surrounding their conservation. No experience is necessary to volunteer! We’ll provide all the training you need to treat trees safely and effectively while we protect North Carolina’s hemlocks together.

    “It’s good to get out and meet people who actually care about these environmental issues.” – hemlock treatment volunteer

    Treatment days can range from gentle to steep terrain in mostly clear weather, but almost always involve some walking on uneven terrain, bending, stooping and tree hugging. While some sites and tasks are physically demanding, others are quite accessible and don’t require as much physical effort. If you have some physical limitations, but would like to help, please talk with our Stewardship and Volunteer Engagement Associate to find a suitable project. Take a look at some of our past volunteer treatment projects to see how volunteers have helped us in our work.



    Paddlers for Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT)

    “It’s rewarding to climb up steep slopes to treat hard to reach trees. Based on how challenging the area is to access by land, I know that if we don’t reach a hemlock there, it probably won’t be treated.” – PHHAT volunteer

    The PHHAT Team is a collaborative effort between HRI, American Whitewater, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, and MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper. Volunteers with the PHHAT Team utilize their paddling skills to chemically treat hemlock trees along the Green River that would otherwise be difficult to access. Treatments along the Lower Green are open to all skill levels and extra space on rafts may be available for those without boats.  The PHHAT Team is always looking for experienced paddlers to lend their skills to helping with treatments in the Upper Green and The Narrows. 

    Visit to learn more about the work that PHHAT does in the Green River Game Lands and join the PHHAT Facebook page to hear about the latest news and upcoming events.


    Biological Control Assistance

    Montreat students monitor for Laricobius beetles.

    A heavy adelgid infestation makes great food for beetles!

    HRI engages with student groups and volunteers to monitor for Laricobius beetles used as a biological control for HWA. These monitoring efforts inform land managers on how to take an integrated approach to pest management while educating volunteers on the approaches being taken manage HWA on a landscape level.

    The NCDA&CS Beneficial Insect Lab is looking for your unwanted adelgid. If you have a hemlock with a high density of adelgid, you can send branches to the lab to help feed the next generation of Laricobius beetles! The lab needs food for the beetles fall through spring. Contact us for more information.


    Join us in helping our partners

    “In HRI you feel connected meeting partner organizations and other volunteers. You feel like you’re a part of that community too.” – hemlock planting volunteer

    Volunteers work with USFS Southern Research Station and HRI staff to plant hemlocks in a research plot.

    HRI recruits volunteers to help partner organizations conduct research on HWA and to support other conservation efforts. We have regular workdays in the Forest Restoration Alliance and Camcore greenhouses to assist in their research on native resistance and genetic conservation of eastern and Carolina hemlocks. HRI staff and volunteers have also assisted in hemlock plantings with these partners and the USFS Southern Research Station for research on HWA and to establish seed orchards for genetic stock to cross breed with resistant trees.

    Want to get involved in conservation research right now? Download the TreeSnap app and learn how to identify survivor trees to help the Forest Restoration Alliance locate hemlocks with native resistance to HWA.



    Assist with Training Workshops, Hikes, and Outings

    “The training workshop allowed us to practice and become familiar with products, tools, and methods, but also let us ask questions that may not have come up otherwise and get more in depth answers than in presentations.” – 2019 workshop participant

    HRI also hosts interactive events to teach participants about hemlocks, the issues surrounding hemlock conservation, and management strategies. There are a variety of other opportunities to volunteer and ways to be a part of HRI:

    • Help with office tasks to prepare for events
    • Be the safety sweep on an educational hike led by HRI
    • Become a Hemlock Ambassador and assist HRI at a tabling event
    • Send us hemlock photos – We would love to share any hemlock pictures you take!
    • Share any other talents with us such as videography/photography, graphic design, artistic talents, or anything else!

    To learn more about educational programming with HRI or other upcoming events, visit our Events page or join our mailing list.