Thesis Summary: Public Gardens Engaging Millennials on Social Media

Public garden leaders are interested in engaging millennials, the first ‘digitally-native’ generation. But are millennials interested in public gardens? If so, how can public gardens customize their digital and social media strategies to engage a millennial audience?

Elizabeth Barton explores social and digital media strategies for getting millennials involved as visitors, members, and donors for public gardens. Her project combines research on existing public garden social media use, narrative interviews, and a survey of millennials to provide insight into effective social media engagement strategies for gardens.

Millennials — the Me Me Me Generation?

Elizabeth’s project has demonstrated that:

  1. Millennials are enthusiastic about involvement with public gardens!
  2. Millennials want to interact with gardens through social media.

Learn more about how public gardens are embracing social media to reach the next generation by contacting Elizabeth at ebarton@udel.edu, or joining her and the rest of the Fellows as they present their theses on May 26 at 10:00 AM at the University of Delaware. RSVP at our Eventbrite link!

Thesis Summary: Food Systems Education in Public Gardens

A plant tag from an heirloom apple tree at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Fellow Erin Kinley visited Tower Hill last November to investigate how their heirloom apple orchard, featuring 119 pre-20th century apple varieties, teaches visitors about food systems.

“Do you know where your food comes from?”

Erin Kinley despises this question. After eighteen years of living on a farm, four years of studying horticulture and plant biology, and two years of researching food education, she recognizes that today’s food system is a complicated beast. Between farm and fork, almost all food is influenced by many combinations of processors, distributors, government policies, and marketing gimmicks; simply teaching people that their tomatoes come from plants that grow on farms isn’t enough to help them make informed choices about their food.

Her thesis, Evaluating Food Systems Education and Interpretation in Public Gardens, explores how gardens are educating their visitors about the complexity of today’s food supply. Public gardens, already trusted resources for plant education, have incredible potential to teach people about the plants that form the base of every food chain. Erin’s research utilized a survey, phone interviews, and on-site observations to evaluate gardens’ current food systems education programs and identify opportunities for program growth. Based on her findings, Erin believes that with the right resources and partnerships, public gardens can become leaders in food systems education.

Want to learn more? Contact her at ekinley@udel.edu, or join all the Fellows as they present their theses on May 26 at 10:00 AM at the University of Delaware. RSVP at our Eventbrite link!

Reminder: Submit your LGP Symposium Travel Award Applications!

 

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Speakers at the 2016 LGP Conference included Paul Smith (BGCI), Nayra Pacheco (Just Communities), Joseph McGill (Magnolia Plantations and the Slave Dwelling Project), and Guina Hammond (PHS)

The Fellows would like to remind students and emerging professionals of the Travel Award opportunity for the 2017 Longwood Graduate Symposium and encourage anyone interested to apply. The deadline is Sunday, January 8th, 2017. Additional information and applications can be found here.

This week, we are excited to feature Alexa Wright – current Education Intern at Longwood Gardens! Alexa has a BA in Biology from Oberlin College, and her MS in Horticulture from NC State. Below, she shares her experience as a Travel Awardee in last year’s Longwood Graduate Symposium!

“Attending the 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium immersed me in the culture and organization of the public garden world. I was able to partake in conversations about issues that cultural institutions (especially public gardens) face and help brainstorm ways to overcome them.  I was also able to engage with those who share my passion for horticulture and environmental education. I enjoyed all of the wonderful aspects of attending a symposium from the thought-provoking dialogue and networking to the sense of inspiration from the unique experiences and knowledge obtained. As an Emerging Professionals Travel Awardee I was also able to be behind-the-scenes and have excellent one-on-one conversations with the guest speakers and surround myself with others like me, current students, recent graduates and those who were beginning their careers in the public horticulture field.

The 2016 Graduate Symposium was a stepping stone for my career. After attending the symposium I applied and was selected for a yearlong internship in the education department at Longwood Gardens. Being a travel awardee at the graduate symposium gave me unique perspective, fresh ideas and an edge in the job market. Additionally, meeting, conversing with and receiving advice from attendees helped and motivated me as an emerging professional in the field. The people (especially the graduate students) were awesome, the conversations (and meals) were amazing and overall it was an incredible experience!”

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Longwood Graduate Fellows and Travel Awardees take a photo with Paul and Martha Parvis, long-time supporters of the program and Symposium! Alexa Wright is second from the right in this photograph.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Alexa! The Fellows look forward to meeting 2017’s Travel Awardees!

Further updates (including open registration and speaker announcements) will be posted through this blog (http://agdev.anr.udel.edu/longwoodgradblog/) as well as our Facebook page.

For questions about the Travel Award, please contact Erin Kinley at ekinley@udel.edu. Questions about the Symposium event can be sent to Elizabeth Barton at ebarton@longwoodgardens.org.

 

 

 

 

POP 2016 Wrap Up: TheDCH Garden Site Vision Plan

The Fellows are excited to present the finished product of the 2016 Professional Outreach Project – a Garden Vision Plan for the Delaware Center for Horticulture (TheDCH).

It has been a busy and educational summer working with TheDCH. June and July were spent conducting a document review of the organization and making site observations. August was heavily focused on internal stakeholder interviews, and external benchmarking interviews of organizations with similar missions, site sizes, and access. September saw an intimate gathering of staff, board members, community stakeholders, and TheDCH members for a Community Workshop. Key considerations included the renovation of Conaty Park next door to include a children’s playground, as well as ways to generate revenue for the new garden site.

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TheDCH Executive Director Vikram Krishnamurthy, and Longwood Fellows Elizabeth Barton and Erin Kinley during the first site visit.

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The renovation of Conaty Park from basketball court to playground. The orange fencing marks the future rain garden between TheDCH site and Conaty.

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POP Lead Fellow Tracy Qiu describing the Garden Site during the Community Workshop

The Fellows then compiled, synthesized, and analyzed document notes, interview data, and community workshop observations into the final report – a 60+ page document detailing the past, present, and potential future activities of the garden site. Recommendations and resources were included to help guide the identity of the garden as TheDCH grows over time.

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Cover page for the 2016 POP Report

Lastly, the Fellows were honored to present their findings to TheDCH staff, board, and membership at TheDCH Annual Meeting on October 26, sharing their observations and recommendations with the larger community. The Fellows would like to thank TheDCH staff, board, and membership, as well as the 2016 POP Advisory Committee. The 2016 Professional Outreach Project was a valuable hands-on experience in the public garden field, and the Fellows look forward to seeing the future development of the garden site!

Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

The First Year Fellows have had another adventure-packed day down under. The group started the morning with a quick hike to Wentworth Falls to experience the native Australian flora in its natural habitat.

The scenic Wentworth Falls of the Australian Blue Mountains

Mist hangs over the scenic Wentworth Falls in the Australian Blue Mountains.

After taking in the stunning views of the falls, the Fellows continued on to the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, Australia’s largest botanic garden. Mount Annan not only  features beautiful landscapes and walking trails, but it is also home to the world-renowned Australian PlantBank.

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan showcases hundreds of native plants and is also the site for the Australian PlantBank.

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan showcases hundreds of native plants and is also the site for the Australian PlantBank.

The Australian PlantBank is a state-of-the-art facility that holds over 10,000 collections of plant species for conservation and research. The institution uses the latest technology available to preserve as many seeds and as much plant tissue as possible.

Equipment like this thermogradient plate can help scientists at the PlankBank not only determine the best conditions for seed germination, but also predict the effects of climate change on the seeds of specific plant species.

Equipment like this thermogradient plate can help scientists at the PlankBank not only determine the best conditions for seed germination, but also predict the effects of climate change on the seeds of specific plant species.

While the PlantBank stores a wealth of genetic diversity, it also serves as an incredible education center for the public. Visitors to the garden can tour the facility to observe scientists processing thousands of seeds for the PlantBank and interact with the many displays within the building. Classes and private tours are also available to help people connect with and understand the importance of plants and seed conservation.

Glass walls in the PlantBank enable visitors to watch scientists as they prepare seeds and other plant tissues for preservation.

Glass walls in the PlantBank enable visitors to watch scientists as they prepare seeds and other plant tissues for preservation.

Fellow Tracy Qiu observes one of the many interactive displays inside the Australian PlantBank.

With the PlantBank, traditional gardens, and numerous recreation areas, the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is well-poised to successfully engage both local and far-away communities for many years to come.

Reminder: Symposium Travel Award Applications due Friday!

Send your applications in this week for the Emerging Professionals Travel Award! Awards will be given to eligible emerging professionals, including students, to engage a new generation in this important dialogue.

Click here for further information about the Travel Award, including the application. The deadline for applications is this Friday, January 8, 2016.

More information about the 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium: Daring Dialogue:

Public gardens and cultural institutions are centers of community, science, and art. Today’s society is often overwhelmed with debates in all of these areas. In a world where misspoken words amplify in a matter of minutes, how can institutions tactfully open discussion on today’s difficult topics? When and where do they provide research, resources, and opportunities to interact with new or contested ideas?

The 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium, Daring Dialogue, will navigate the questions and higher callings of cultural institutions. Discover how we are prepared to address challenging issues such as environmental action, civic responsibility, and the evolution of public gardens as community assets.

Registration opens Friday, January 8.

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Announcing: 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium & Travel Award

Daring Dialogue Final Logo

Save the date for the 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium and spread the word about the Emerging Professionals Travel Award!

Public gardens and cultural institutions are centers of community, science, and art. Today’s society is often overwhelmed with debates in all of these areas. In a world where misspoken words amplify in a matter of minutes, how can institutions tactfully open discussion on today’s difficult topics? When and where do they provide research, resources, and opportunities to interact with new or contested ideas?

The 2016 Longwood Graduate Program Symposium, Daring Dialogue, will navigate the questions and higher callings of cultural institutions. Discover how we are prepared to address challenging issues such as environmental action, civic responsibility, and the evolution of public gardens as community assets.

Emerging Professionals Travel Award Application Available Now! 

We are also excited to announce our second annual Emerging Professionals Travel Award to attend our 2016 Symposium! The Travel Award will be given to eligible emerging professionals, including students, to engage a new generation in this important dialogue.

Click here for further information about the Travel Award, including the application. The deadline for applications is Friday, January 8, 2016.

Thank you in advance for spreading the word!

A Coastal Experience

Author: Robert Lyons, Director of the LGP
Photography: Lindsey Kerr and Laurie Metzger

The last leg of our North American Experience journey took us 3.5 hours north of Boston to the charming town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  To get there, our primary route out of Boston’s twisted and contorted system of complex intersections and rotaries was a familiar I-95.  Upon our arrival, we checked into the Tugboat Inn, a slightly enigmatic hotel that echoed into the evening with the voices of seasoned, anonymous lounge singers.

After a welcomed night sleep, we boarded the van on a glorious morning saturated by bright sun, clear blue skies, and crisp temperatures that beckoned a sweatshirt or long sleeves.  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) was our destination and none of us had ever visited, making this destination greatly anticipated.  Upon our arrival, we met up with Executive Director Bill Cullina, who escorted us through their “net zero” LEEDDSC_0299 certified administration and education building.  Fascinating! We ended up in the conference room where Bill and his entourage of key staff introduced us to CMBG’s history, mission, current operations, and future plans. Their property is beautiful, and ironically became available for purchase when a developer abandoned plans for a subdivision and sold the 128 acres to the founders of what was to become CMBG. Today there are 298 total acres, 8000 members, 100,000 visitors/year, 31 permanent employees, 800 volunteers, and an annual operating budget of  $3.2 million.  While open year round, there is an entry fee from April 15 – October, with the remaining months free.

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We couldn’t wait to get outside and Bill readily obliged.  A quick pass through a recently renovated and bustling visitor center led us to the Burpee Kitchen Garden, which was DSC_0302cleverly integrated into the restaurant’s al fresco dining area.  What a concept…many of the same plants that were harvested for the menu grew within arm’s reach.  We were joined by Rodney Eason, former Longwood employee and now Director of Horticulture for CMBG. He and Bill guided us in tag team style through the green spaces and internal pathways, all bordered by artfully designed beds rampant with color or brushed with the diverse green shades of Maine’s natural vegetation. Our tour soon exited the cultivated spaces, including what we all determined was an ingenious approach to a children’s garden, and we found ourselves within a completely forested region dominated by conifers.  We were indeed close to the IMG_0524water and Bill was excited to show us the coastline.  We lingered there to catch our breath and take a group photograph before heading back to conclude our visit.Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens lived up to all the pre-visit hype and landed on our own wish list of places to see again as soon as we can!

 

 

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Juniper Level Botanical Garden at Plant Delights Nursery

August 23, 2012 – Plants Delights Nursery, NC
(written by Dottie Miles, photographs by Quill Teal-Sullivan)

Hidden within a hedge of ‘Nellie Stevens’ holly and other “spiny” plant material, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens is an eclectic collection of diverse plants gathered from near and far.  Passionate founder, Tony Avent, describes it as a research and botanical garden funded by a plant nursery operation with a mission, “to discover, study, select, preserve, and make available new hardy perennial plants for both shade gardens and sun gardens around the world.”

Our host, Tony Avent

Looking for non-invasive plants that can be hardy in the North Carolina climate, Avent is the mythbuster of horticulture, noting, “where you find it in the wild is not necessarily where it grows best.”  The garden is a testament to his pursuit to learn more about his collection, as he designs planting beds for both pleasure and research.

Martin examining a South African species

Within his garden, Avent has built an organic series of trails inviting one to wander, immerse and delight in the unique collection.  Containing whimsical garden elements and a smart irrigation and filtration system, the collection and juxtaposition ofplantings is astounding. Avent explains, “you don’t learn something new by duplicating what you already know,” and then goes on to highlight an experience of plant discovery that challenges known research and historical data.

Rain Lillies

To date, his collection has massed to 19,836 accessions that have been assembled through plant exploration in the U.S. and abroad. Avent and his associates have been on more than 70 collection trips during which they gathered over 1000 different ferns, the largest Aspidistra collection worldwide, an Amorphophallus collection that is the third largest in the country, rain lilies, agave, trillium, and the list goes on.

Beautiful agaves

To further plant propagation and research efforts, Avent has recently acquired neighboring land to expand operations; he anticipates opening to the public 7 days a week in the next few years.  Until then, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens is open eight weekends a year.

Cactus bloom

All in all, Avent may just be the most unique part of his eclectic garden.  To those who know him and his passion for plants, it should come to no surprise that he seems to find extreme enjoyment in sharing his garden with others.  The knowledge and insight he shared about his collection was a special treat and we all walked away wanting more than one of his plants.

Group shot with Tony Avent

Thank you to our Sponsors

The Longwood Graduate Program Symposium is fast approaching. The Fellows have been working hard to ensure the success of the event. However, none of that success comes without the support of our Symposium Sponsors. Each year, one Fellow takes the lead in raising funds to cover Symposium costs. This year, each Fellow had the opportunity to join Raakel Toppila in sponsorship meetings in which the Fellows learned, through experience, what it takes to cultivate donor relations. Like years before, public horticulture institutions and businesses near and far came forth with immense support for the Program and the Symposium. Nineteen organizations contributed funds and/or in-kind donations to the Symposium. We are forever grateful for their continued support of the Longwood Graduate Program.

Another aspect of our fundraising efforts involved a Former Fellow Campaign in which we reached out to graduates of the Longwood Graduate Program to support our efforts. Eleven Former Fellows contributed this year, in addition to former Program director, Dr. Jim Swasey.

On behalf of all the current Fellows and Dr. Lyons …THANK YOU.

This year’s Symposium Sponsors:

Speaker Sponsors

American Public Gardens Association
Chanticleer
Parvis Family Endowment

Golden Larch Sponsors

Color Advantage Photography
Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square
Mt. Cuba Center
Nemours Mansion & Gardens
University of Delaware Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Silver Linden Sponsors

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Center for Public Horticulture
Tyler Arboretum
Welkinweir

Copper Beech Sponsors

Adkins Arboretum
Garden Club of Wilmington
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Lark Label
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Delaware Botanic Gardens
Debra L. Rogers and Paul W. Meyer, Former Longwood Graduate Fellow, Class of 1977

Bronze Fennel Sponsors

Botanic Gardens Conservation International, U.S.
Dr. Jim Swasey, Former Program Director

Former Fellows
Jim Swasey, Former Program Director
Kathryn and Gary Gerlach, Class of 1969
Richard Brown, Class of 1970
Colvin Randall, Class of 1975
Jane Pepper, Class of 1978
Claire Sawyers, Class of 1983
Nancy Bechtol, Class of 1984
Erich Rudyj, Class of 1988
Patrick Larkin, Class of 1995
William Lefevre, Class of 1999
Matthew Quirey, Class of 2009