Volunteers make Locust Grove go ’round: Meet Mary Beth Williams

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to tour Locust Grove, attend an event, drop off books for the book sale, browse in our gift shop, or stroll through our gardens, chances are you’ve come in contact with a Locust Grove volunteer. Our volunteers are passionate, tireless individuals who care deeply about Locust Grove and its mission and do everything from giving tours to directing traffic so our museum can continue to flourish and serve the community. We love all of our volunteers, and we’re always looking for new faces to join our team! Mary Beth Williams is our Curator of Collections and Education, and she also serves as our fearless leader of volunteers! Mary Beth has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Bellarmine University and a Master’s Degree in Art History with a concentration in Curatorial Studies from the University of Louisville. Mary Beth came to Locust Grove as the Program Director in 2008, and last summer rose to her current position as Curator of Collections and Education. When she’s not on site herding schoolchildren, Mary Beth loves to travel and knit, and is currently working on a sweater from the 1940s using a vintage pattern! She took some time out of her busy schedule of to answer some questions about our wonderful volunteers at Locust Grove.

Hi Mary Beth!

Hi Mary Beth!

Why are volunteers so important to LG?
Volunteers are crucial to the success of our operation!  We have a pretty small staff—only four full-time employees, and several part-time staff members.  Our volunteers make it possible for us to offer large events like the Gardeners’ Fair, Market Fair and book sale, or accommodate large school groups.  Just this week we had 95 kindergarteners and a church group all touring the house simultaneously.

Volunteer Bob Smith in the woodshop with local students

Volunteer Bob Smith in the woodshop with local students

What kinds of jobs do volunteers fill at LG?
Volunteers help in so many ways here.  They do everything from giving tours, helping in the store, helping with large mailings, research, working with school kids, and in the gardens.  At large events we always need help in the house, taking admissions, selling concessions, assisting with parking, and the ever illustrious and crucial job of trash patrol.

Volunteers in the kitchen with our gardener, Sarah!

Volunteers in the kitchen with our gardener, Sarah!

What kind of training goes into becoming a volunteer?

The type of training depends on the volunteer position.  During the training period, our docents shadow tours and are provided with a manual and materials to read.  Visitors Center volunteers work with our museum store manager to learn the ropes of customer service and using our cash register system.   Other areas, like helping with mailings or volunteering at special events, require little prior training—just the enthusiasm to help out Locust Grove.


What is your favorite thing about volunteers at LG?
I love working with our volunteers.  We have such fun and interesting people that are involved here.  We are fortunate to have a pretty good size group of volunteers, so I enjoy chatting and joking around with them.  I can be pretty sarcastic at times, but they’re pretty good about rolling with the punches.  Many of our volunteers are history lovers (for obvious reasons), so even though all of our volunteers are from different backgrounds, professions and ages we all share a common passion so that tends to bond us all together.


What is something people might not know about volunteering/volunteers at Locust Grove?
I am constantly amazed by how many years our volunteers have dedicated to Locust Grove (some for over 30 years!), as well as how many hours they contribute each year.  We recognize this service by adding a special bar with stars to a volunteer’s name tag.  One star = 100 hours of service, 2 stars = 500 hours, 3 stars = 1,000 hours of service, 4 stars = 2,000 hours, and so forth.  We have several volunteers who have earned a special fleur-de-lis which represents over 3,000 volunteer hours.  We even have one volunteer with over 7,000 hours!


Some of our award-winning volunteers!

Some of our award-winning volunteers!

Why should people volunteer at LG?
We are very grateful for the volunteers who give of their time and expertise, so we try to show them how grateful we are.  We have an annual volunteer appreciation party in the spring, where we have dinner and hand out awards.  Volunteers also get little perks like free admission to our monthly lecture series, and 10% off in the museum store.  We also take trips periodically throughout the year that are open just to volunteers.  In the past we have visited Mammoth Cave, Conner Prairie, Ashland, the Mary Todd Lincoln house, Riverside and Cave Hill to name a few.  We have a trip to Frankfort planned for this summer, so we’d love to have some new volunteers join us for that.

Locust Grove volunteers on a 2012 trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

Locust Grove volunteers on a 2012 trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

What are the current volunteer needs at Locust Grove?

Currently we are seeking docents, visitors center volunteers, and costumed demonstrator volunteers.  The costumed demonstrators showcase things like hearth cooking, spinning and wood working to school groups.  Training will be provided so no previous experience is necessary.

If you’re interested in becoming a Locust Grove volunteer, contact Mary Beth by calling (502) 897-9845 or emailing mwilliams@locustgrove.org. And to all of our volunteers–past, present, and future–thank you for all that you do! Locust Grove would not be Locust Grove without you.

Gratefully yours,


P.S. If you haven’t already taken the Locust Grove blog survey, there’s still time! Click this link to add your input: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W5X9CS3.

To receive updates on all the goings-on at Locust Grove, why not join our e-mailing list? Sign-up HERE to receive monthly updates! Or if you foresee numerous visits to Locust Grove in your future, why not become a member? Friends of Locust Grove receive free admission, invitations to members-only events, a 10% discount in the Museum Store, a copy of our quarterly newsletter, The Grove Gazette and much, much more! More information can be found HERE.

You can also follow Locust Grove on the web by subscribing to the blog on the right, and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (We’re everywhere!)


6 thoughts on “Volunteers make Locust Grove go ’round: Meet Mary Beth Williams

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