Supporting Pollinators

In mid-October, Longwood Graduate Fellow Keith Nevison attended the inaugural Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes Conference (PPinOL) at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The conference was co-sponsored by North Carolina State University and Michigan State University Extension and featured presentations assessing honeybee and bumblebee health in the face of numerous environmental stressors. Speakers discussed industry and extension office efforts to promote beekeeping and pollinator protection while balancing consumer desires to safely apply pesticides to combat pest and disease outbreaks.

Interesting presentations abounded.

Interesting presentations abounded

The PPinOL conference was quite timely, as the White House recently released a National Strategy to Promote Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. To further promote pollinator conservation, the National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) was formed to register one million public and private gardens in support of pollinators. NPGN is an unprecedented collaboration between national gardening clubs, conservation non-profits, and garden industry partners, including the American Public Gardens Association, the National Wildlife Foundation, American Hort, the Xerces Society, and others.

Fall in full effect in the Smoky Mountains.

Fall was in full effect in the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Kanuga Conference Center was an ideal setting for the conference and provided ample opportunities for recreation and reflection, with its 1,400 wooded acres and miles of trails. Kanuga has operated since 1928 and welcomes over 25,000 guests each year to its conference facilities, retreat center, summer camps, and Mountain Trail Outdoor School.

Kanuga Lake forms the heart of the property.

Kanuga Lake forms the heart of the Kanuga Conference Center property

After the conference, attendees were offered the chance to tour the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the United States. Our tour was provided by Director of Horticulture Parker Andes, who formerly served as Landscape Superintendent at Longwood Gardens. Parker painted a picture of the early Vanderbilt family and their efforts to turn their property into America’s first forestry education school, with opportunities to study the effects of logging and reforestation, among other practices. At its height, the Vanderbilt Estate encompassed over 125,000 acres, and in 1911 a significant parcel was sold to the United States Forest Service to become Pisgah National Forest.

Very fine greenhouse on the Biltmore Estate.

Exquisite greenhouse on the Biltmore Estate

Asheville in mid-autumn is beautiful and provided a perfect setting for this fall conference–Thanks to the team who came together to make it a success!

Volunteer Engagement in Santa Barbara, California

Volunteers are the heart and hands behind many public gardens and play an integral part in garden operations and engagement. First Year Fellow Tracy Qiu represented the Longwood Graduate Program at the 2015 American Public Gardens Association Volunteer Engagement Symposium, held in sunny Santa Barbara.

Fellow Tracy Qiu examines the beautiful tilework at Ganna Walska Lotusland

Fellow Tracy Qiu examines the beautiful tilework at Ganna Walska Lotusland (photo credit: Allie Skaer, Cheyenne Botanic Gardens)

The Symposium kicked off with an opening reception at Ganna Walska Lotusland, and docent-led tours provided attendees with fascinating insight on the life and loves of Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer and garden enthusiast. Her sense of style was visible all over the themed gardens in the form of lush tropical plantings, soda glass-lined gravel paths, oversized seashells surrounding a decadent pool, and many other details. “I’m an enemy of the average,” Ganna Walska is often quoted, and her vision of Lotusland certainly supports her words with its dramatic and whimsical designs.

The enchanting soda glass of Lotusland is also available in the giftshop as a souvenir!

The enchanting soda glass of Lotusland is also available in the giftshop as a souvenir!

Presentations began with a keynote address from noted environmentalist Sigrid Wright, followed by a risk management session – always an important topic when working with volunteer groups. The afternoon brought about an excellent exploration into diversity within volunteer workforces. Nayra Pacheco of Just Communities used a combination of guided exercises and free discussion to dialogue with the audience about the complex issues of race and privilege and how it relates to our volunteer workforces.

In the evening, shuttle buses whisked attendees to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where native plants, sustainable practices, and conservation highlight over 1,000 species of indigenous plants. A highlight of the event was an installation of yarn and fiber arts, surprising guests with bursts of color throughout the California landscape.

The breathtaking skyline of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The breathtaking skyline of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Leadership was the central theme of the final day, with sessions that discussed leadership roles within the volunteer workforce and the multiple roles that volunteer program leaders must fill on a daily basis. The Symposium closed with a tour and reception at the spectacular Casa Del Herrero, a fine example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

Tracy’s favorite memories of the Symposium include Lotusland’s charismatic cacti and succulent garden, the “mirrors and windows” exercise for diversity and representation, “extreme examples” in liability and risk management, and dinner at Mesa Verde with a fabulous group of garden and volunteer professionals.

Beautiful Santa Barbara, California

Beautiful Santa Barbara, California

Many thanks to the American Public Garden Association and planning committee for organizing the symposium, and to the staff and volunteers of Ganna Walska Lotusland and Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens for such a welcoming and invigorating experience! Fellows always look forward to opportunities to develop professional skills and to network, and the 2015 Volunteer Engagement Symposium surpassed expectations.

Summer Summary: Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now

Beginning the 2015-2016 school year this week has us reflecting on our accomplishments this past summer and looking toward what is ahead:

The Class of 2016 traveled throughout Massachusetts to visit The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Mount Auburn Cemetery, and other locations owned by the Trustees of Reservations at the beginning of June. Fellows also presented their research and experiences at the American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference in Minneapolis in late June.

July brought the Class of 2017, who dove into learning about all the departments that comprise Longwood Gardens, meeting public horticulture professionals in July and August, and formulating their thesis research topics.

Several Fellows attended the American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference in New Orleans, LA at the beginning of August. They received the following awards and presented their research:

2015-07-14 00.02.57 (1)Elizabeth Barton, Class of 2017
Award: Industry Division Student Travel Grant

Research: Moderated an oral session and presented her research, “A Comparison of Organic Matter Amendments for Use in Extensive Green Roof Substrates”


Andrea ASHS Poster

Andrea worked hard this spring to complete experiments central to her thesis research on oak trees

Andrea Brennan, Class of 2016
Awards: 3rd Place in Scholars Ignite Competition for her speech Tissue Culture for Oak Conservation: Graduate students share their research discoveries and creations to a non-specialist audience in under 3 minutes; ASHS Travel Grant

Research: Presented posters on her research, “The Effect of 6-Benzylaminopurine (BAP) on Bud-forcing of Twelve Quercus L. Species” during two sessions: Propagation I and the Graduate Student Poster Competition

2015-07-14 00.06.12Erin Kinley, Class of 2017
Award: American Society for Horticultural Science Scholar Award





Most recently, the Class of 2016 have been guiding the Class of 2017 throughout this year’s Professional Outreach Project, which is focused on Bright Spot Farms and creating an updated program and business plan. Lead Fellow Stephanie Kuniholm will share our experience at the beginning of October.

Fellows are also gearing up for the 2016 Symposium, the annual International Experience (for the Class of 2017), attending conferences and looking forward to classes this semester. Check back for updates every two weeks this fall!

A Wonderful Conference at Scott Arboretum

On Friday, July 17, several of the Longwood Graduate Program Fellows and Longwood Gardens  Interns attended the Woody Plant Conference at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. While Swarthmore College was founded in 1864, the arboretum was officially dedicated in 1929. The Fellows spent the day listening to several inspiring speakers and engaging with other professionals from the region, as well as enjoying the lovely sights of the arboretum.

Fellows and Interns alike loved the landscapes at Scott Arboretum

Fellows and Interns alike loved the landscapes at Scott Arboretum

After a welcome from Scott Arboretum Director Claire Sawyers, Rebecca McMackin of Brooklyn Bridge Park took the podium to share her experiences with helping create a biodiversity-focused public garden on reclaimed shipping piers in New York City. She was followed by Dr. David Creech of Stephen F. Austin Gardens in Texas, who spoke about the best woody plant selections available for our shifting climate. Longwood Gardens’ own Pandora Young then gave a wonderful presentation on trees and shrubs that not only look great in landscapes but can also provide us with delicious new foods.


The Scott Arboretum planned an incredible conference, even down to the floral finishes

After lunch in the arboretum’s stunning outdoor amphitheater, conference attendees returned inside to hear Jeff Jabco of Scott Arboretum, Joe Henderson of Chanticleer, and Jessica Whitehead of Longwood discuss the regional clematis trial being done as a joint effort between the three organizations. Next, Jim Chatfield from the Ohio State University Extension program gave valuable insight on analyzing signs, symptoms, and plant health for diagnosing plant problems. Patrick Cullina ended the conference with a riveting presentation on plant use and selection in public spaces, including projects such as the High Line in New York City.

First year Fellows enjoying the beautiful weather after the conference

First year Fellows enjoying the beautiful weather after the conference

The Fellows would like to thank all of the conference staff and volunteers who put together such a wonderful program. We hope to see you again next year!

Watering Our Roots to Grow Our Communities

Minneapolis Scuplture Garden on a lovely June day

Minneapolis Scuplture Garden on a lovely June day

Beautiful Minneapolis-St. Paul was the location of this year’s American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference. The Fellows enjoyed every aspect of the week, especially the hospitality of the co-hosting institutions, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum is currently hosting Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks as a temporary exhibition; the colors of this dragonfly perfectly accent the astilbe

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum is currently hosting Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks as a temporary exhibition; the colors of this dragonfly perfectly accent the astilbe

Public garden leaders presented on wide variety of topics during sessions throughout the week, such as leading organizational change, interpreting science for the public, mapping plant collections, and tackling challenges of growing membership at “gateless” gardens.

Not only did the Fellows attend sessions, but several Fellows had the opportunity to share their research and experience with conference attendees as well:

Andrea Brennan (Class of 2016)- Exploring Horticulture and Chrysanthemum Culture in Japan: A presentation on the Class of 2016’s International Experience in January 2015 in Japan.

Frances Jackson (Class of 2016)- The Maddening Crowd? Collections Protection Strategies to Welcome More Visitors to Your Garden (presented with Rebecca McMackin, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Melanie Sifton, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Thomas Smarr, Friends of the High Line)

Sarah Leach Smith (Class of 2015)- Evaluation of Trial Garden Practices at Public Gardens and Arboreta

Bryan Thompsonowak (Class of 2015)- Pressures, Priorities and Strategies for Managing Tree Collections Across Budget Restraints

Sarah Leach Smith presents about her thesis research

Sarah Leach Smith presents about her thesis research

In addition to presenting and learning from the engaging sessions, Fellows explored the Twin City metro area on tours and took in the beauty of both the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in the evening.

The stunning Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is celebrating 100 years in 2015. She's looking pretty good!

The stunning Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is celebrating 100 years in 2015. She’s looking pretty good!

Ford W. Bell, former president of the American Alliance of Museums, energized attendees with his opening speech about the importance of advocacy work. Later in the week, Andrew Zimmern, TV personality, chef, and food writer, showed his appreciation for the work of gardens and arboreta in educating the public on key environmental issues. The acclaimed Dr. Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden and George Engelmann Professor of Botany Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis, concluded the conference with an inspiring conservation message, leaving each of the conference participants energized to return to their home institutions.

Dr. Raven discusses conservation and biodiversity at public gardens

Dr. Raven discusses conservation and biodiversity at public gardens

Thank you to our hosts and to the planning committee for putting together another fantastic conference!

The Classes of 2015 and 2016 were together for a final time before welcoming the Class of 2017!

The Classes of 2015 and 2016 were together for a final time before welcoming the Class of 2017!

BGCI Education Congress in St. Louis

Biodiversity for a Better World: Wild Ideas Worth Sharing

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is the global organization of botanic gardens. BGCI is devoted to plant conservation and educating the world about plants and biodiversity. BGCI’s Education Congress is held every three years, bringing together garden educators, horticulturists, and plant scientists to share their insights. This year the congress was held at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and with over 300 delegates attending from nearly 40 countries, it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up on the latest thinking in education, interpretation, and communication at botanic gardens.

Fran and Mackenzie were just happy to be here!

Fran and Mackenzie were happy to be representing the Longwood Graduate Program!

A focus of the congress was reflecting on how botanic gardens in the 21st century can ensure that they become firmly embedded in the fabric of the community in which they are located, and are not seen as a place that only cetain sections of the community can access and enjoy. Dr. Bernadette Lynch’s presentation on the five-year initiative Communities in Nature, a program that aims to encourage botanical gardens to grow their social role was particularly fitting. Kew Gardens’ Grow Wild campaign, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s BioTECH High School were two outstanding examples of forward-looking gardens. A high school for botanists – can you imagine? Fairchild not only imagined this, but worked with the local school board to make it happen.

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden

Shoots & Roots Bitters, a New York-based company founded bybbotantists, hosted a Science of Taste workshop, which taught participants the science of why food tastes the way it does, and why humans taste food as being sweet, sour, bitter, salty or umami. A favorite activity tricked our taste buds into thinking we were eating something particularly sweet after we ate miracle fruit, although we were really eating lemons.

Missouri Botanic Garden was the perfect setting for this Congress, and delegates enjoyed an idyllic welcome reception at the gardens proper as well as a Bluegrass and BBQ dinner at the beautiful Shaw Nature Reserve – 2,441 acres of natural area, with at least eight different vegetation communities, including woodland and forest, tall grass prairie, and a spectacularly beautiful wildflower garden. The reserve is a must-see when visiting St. Louis; it’s a great way to gain an understanding of the different plant communities in the Ozark Border country.

Shaw Nature Reserve's wildflower walk

Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve

Missouri Botanical Garden was dressed in its very best spring color and the weather could not have been better. The irises were timed to perfection, the dogwoods were in full bloom, and the azaleas at their peak, too. A delightful place for a congress about education in botanic gardens–kudos to our hosts from Missouri Botanical Garden and BGCI!

Getting to know Missouri's trees a little better: A wonderful interpretation tool - tree climbing for absolute novices at Shaw Nature Reserve

Getting to know Missouri’s trees a little better: delegates try their hand at tree climbing at Shaw Nature Reserve

Longwood Gardens student representation at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball gam-- they were playing the Phillies! L to R: Fellows: Mackenzie Fochs, Fran Jackson; International Interns: Ashley Edwards, Leon Charalambous, Pippa Lucas; Intern Caity Chandler (photo credit: Caity Chandler)

Longwood Gardens student representation at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball gam– they were playing the Phillies! L to R: Fellows: Mackenzie Fochs, Fran Jackson; International Interns: Ashley Edwards, Leon Charalambous, Pippa Lucas; Intern Caity Chandler (photo credit: Caity Chandler)

Native Plant Conservation and Design in the Lone Star State

by Keith Nevison

Deep in the heart of Texas I ventured for the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural native plant symposium, which was held at the stunning Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC) in Austin, Texas. The Center was founded by former First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson and her long-time friend Helen Hayes, the “First Lady of the American Theatre.” The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see public garden featuring amazing stone buildings and walkways, spectacular native Texan floral displays, and innovative design features such an observation tower with a green roof and artwork featured throughout the garden.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s newest garden addition opened last year.

On the first day of the conference, registrants were treated to a magnificent tour of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve which features waterfalls, blooming Texas redbud and other drought-resistant trees, abundant songbirds, and fabulous fossil hunting across the underlying strata.

APGA Native Plant Symposium attendees receiving a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve from local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting

Local plant legend David Mahler of Environmental Survey Consulting provided a comprehensive overview of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

The Texas Hill Country!

The Texas Hill Country

Participants also explored a private residential landscape exclusively featuring central Texas native species from the Edwards Plateau and Texas Hill Country. These areas are biodiversity hotspots with numerous endemic plant and animal species. The garden was exquisite with impressive design features such as a grotto, a creek wetland, and restored native wildflower meadows.

The theme of the 2015 symposium was Cultivating the Future of Native Plants: Conservation and Design. This was an apt theme as the conference roster was comprised of equal parts horticulturists and ecological restoration practitioners. Very interesting conversations were had on subjects such as native plants in design, the role of botanic gardens in plant conservation, creating the native plant market, and landscape design as ecological art. LBJWC has been a leader for years in these areas with their Native Plant Information Network and Sustainable SITES® Initiative partnership with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the United States Botanic Garden. In addition, they maintain partnerships with the Center for Plant Conservation and the Bureau of Land Management’s Seeds of Success Program which aims to collect wildland seeds for research, development, germplasm conservation, and ecosystem restoration. Clearly an active place with lots going on!

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LDJWC.

Homeowner’s Inspiration Gardens near the entrance to LBJWC

Spring was in effect down in Austin and many species were blooming, including the iconic state flower, the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).

Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)- state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state.

Texas bluebonnet: state flower and endemic to the Lone Star state

The garden features many oak meadows with both live oaks and deciduous oaks as well as a rich understory of shrubs, forbs, and grasses.

Inviting meadows abound at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Inviting meadows abound at the LBJWC

Well-known landscape designer Darrel Morrison concluded the Symposium by speaking about his designs and inspiration, from the layout for LBJWC to his most recent design for Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Native Flora Garden. Perhaps the most enlightening thing I learned from him is that one should always camp out on the land prior to working on a project in order to get a feel for the land and to observe its features over the course of the day. Through this experience, one can determine the ideal placement for soft and hard garden elements.

The stonework and hardscape features of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are striking and plentiful. The gardens features many xeric species such as Opuntia, Nolina, Muhlenbergia, Cercis, Agave, etc. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must-see if you ever find yourself in Central Texas!

Stonework and hardscape features are striking and plentiful at LBJWC

Membership and Development in Sunny California

Professional development is a key aspect of the Longwood Graduate Program, and four Fellows, Mackenzie Fochs, Stephanie Kuniholm, Sarah Leach Smith, and Kevin Philip Williams, attended the American Public Gardens Association’s inaugural Membership and Development Symposium at the end of February.

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

The Fellows at Sherman Library & Gardens

Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar, California hosted the beginning of the Symposium in their Central Patio room, a beautiful space with cathedral ceilings, exposed wood beams, and a cozy fireplace for the evening. The Symposium opened with a presentation on results from a benchmarking survey for philanthropy at public gardens, and the event continued to provide relevant information about how gardens of different sizes tackle recruiting members, soliciting donations, and cultivating relationships with garden supporters.

The gardens at Sherman made the Fellows completely forget the weather they had left behind in Delaware: the succulent garden called to mind the ocean with its use of pattern and strategically placed shells, and the variety of thriving palms, begonias, bromeliads, orchids, and ferns made it feel like paradise.
























San Diego Botanic Garden hosted participants on Thursday afternoon and evening, providing time to explore their 37 acres. A favorite of the Fellows’ was the Subtropical Fruit Garden, where a gardener shared his wealth of knowledge about the citrus fruits and the bounty the trees had produced.


Stephanie shows off the bounty of lemons and kumquats at San Diego Botanic Garden

The final morning of the Symposium, the Fellows had an early start for a tour of Disneyland before the gates opened to visitors. Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture & Resort Enhancement, and his team guided groups through the park and discussed the differences and challenges of horticulture at a place like Disneyland versus a typical botanical garden.

Early morning at Disneyland

Early morning at Disneyland

To conclude the Symposium, participants came together for a final session about putting personal touches on donor relations, brainstorming what was learned over the past few days, and topics for future events.

On the last full day of their trip, the Fellows rented a car and headed to two highly anticipated gardens: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and Descanso Gardens. The Desert Garden at The Huntington was absolutely stunning and it was hard for the Fellows to pull themselves away for lunch. The promise of In ‘N Out Burger proved to be motivation enough and after refueling, they headed to Descanso Gardens. Lucky for the Fellows, the Camellia Festival was happening!  To wander the garden paths and see large camellia bushes blooming beneath the canopy of oak trees in Februrary was a delight.

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington's gardens

Kevin, perfectly at home in The Huntington’s gardens

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

The spectacular Desert Garden at The Huntington

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Camellias as far as the eye can see at Descanso Gardens

Special thanks to Sherman Library and Gardens and San Diego Botanic Gardens for hosting and the American Public Gardens Association for helping coordinate the Symposium as well as Cristeen Martinez and Somer Sherwood-White at Descanso Gardens.


Business Innovation Factory Conference

September 20-21, 2011
(written by James Hearsum)

An unusually titled conference for a horticulturist to attend, you might think.  But wait; we (hopefully) have a clear mission for our organisations, we live in a disruptive social and commercial environment, and we need innovative ways of doing business.  This conference provided the latest disruptive systems thinking and business models in the fields of education, health, and entrepreneurship.  It is billed as the place to get connected and collaboratively innovative through the medium of unforgettable storytelling.

It delivered.

Speakers outlined both methodology and vision for new types of schools, new purposes for education, improved care delivery in hospitals and how to medically prescribe food.  Social change was on everyone’s lips, and this wasn’t just talk, these people had already had notable success.  A hedge fund manager talked about purpose and integrity (yes- they can go together), an entrepreneur ($billion sale to Microsoft) about overcoming fear, and a Huffington post editor about the art of storytelling.

The last of these was a particular highlight.  Andrew Losowsky, books editor at the Huffington Post, spoke about framing stories within a possibility space and defining the likely elements within that space.  A good story, he said, seeks to expand beyond what is considered likely.  This introduces drama, suspense and satisfaction for the hearer.  A great storyteller will toy with our perception of the possible, but not smash it entirely – too much and the story becomes unbelievable, or disturbing.

Still confused why a gardener was there?

This type of larger purpose, cohesive thinking, and ambition to implement systems change is why I work in gardens.  The top Botanic Gardens reach over 40million annual visitors, plus over 1million school children and 1million adults on organised educational programs.  To me, that is enough of an audience to start making some serious changes.  BIF helped me continue to think about how.

In order to achieve large-scale change, we need to inspire and activate those around us.  Information must be transformed into knowledge.  This happens through contextualisation, and the most powerful way to do this is the humble story.

It is vital to draw on the best ideas from other fields, and present them as inspiring stories.  The Longwood Graduate Program will be implementing this principle in the forthcoming Symposium scheduled for the first week in March 2012.  Keep an eye on the website for more surprising details…

The Power of the Internet; Museums and the Web 2011

(written by Aubree Pack)

This month I had the opportunity to attend a conference I’ve had my eye on since last year. Although my first love will always be horticulture, my interests have grown to include understanding how public horticulture institutions can utilize the different opportunities that technology can provide. Exploring how we can use technology in innovative, sustainable, and problem solving ways is a passion of mine.

Museums and the Web, hosted by the Archives and Museum Informatics organization, is designed by and for museum professionals, features the best work from around the world, and highlights the use of new technologies in the museum context. Imagine my excitement when it was being held at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia this year! Over 25 countries were represented and over 600 individuals attended.

(A selected slide from the Plenary Session)

The opening plenary session was a fun start – it was presented by Kristen Purcell of the Pew Internet Research group. She provided an overview of the data they had found for currently trending topics. The overall focus was on how the internet is currently shaping our country. Some of the subtopics included cell phone use across all demographics, teens use of texting and social media (it may surprise you, but teens are using social media less and less – primarily because it’s no longer ‘their’ space. Parents have invaded!), mobile, the changes in how society finds information, etc.

(Another selected slide from the Plenary Session)

A new experience for me was the ‘un-conference’. After my confusion as to what it meant subsided, I was really excited about it.  (thank you Wikipedia! Yes, I use Wikipedia; I openly admit that I’m not afraid of user generated content :)) Okay, so if you don’t know what an un-conference session is, it’s a participant driven session where anyone can suggest a topic and groups are formed around those topics. (I attended Crowdsourcing Plus Tools for Mobile User Generated Content)

(Here is part of the list of topics that came up in the un-conference – it was really hard to choose!)

Other sessions I attended were Social Media and Organization Change, Online Presence and the Act of ‘Just Not Being There‘, Mobile and Geolocation Issues (Getting on, not under, the mobile 2.0 bus), Web Crit Room (existing webpages were evaluated by a panel of professionals), How to Evaluate Online Success, Professional Forum on Re-Thinking Evaluation Metrics, Mini Workshop on Grid Based Web Design, Mobile Crit Room (existing mobile initiatives were evaluated by a panel of professionals), and a few other in conference opportunities. A few of these sessions were direct connections with my thesis research, so it was great to speak with professionals about their similar work. Here’s a teaser about my thesis, should you be interested…

(From the Mobile Crit Room – they put a camera over a smartphone so we could all see the multiple apps)

I would love to talk to anyone about these sessions that is interested; I’m not going to put details abut them here lest this blog post become WAY too long. But I’ve learned so much from this conference; I’m hoping to continue to attend them in the future.

Questions? Comments? Would love to hear them! E-mail me at aubreecherie (at) gmail (dot) com