Symposium 2013: One Month Away!


The Fern Floor at the Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Photography: Laurie Metzger

The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium, Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community, is a little less than a month away!  If you are on the fence about attending, let me paint you a picture…

When you arrive at Longwood Gardens Visitor’s Center, you are greeted by the Graduate Students and Longwood’s friendly staff.  Beyond the glass doors, the garden steals your gaze, beckoning you into the crisp early spring morning. This is a special time in the garden.  The fresh air invigorates you.  Just as you begin admiring the spring bulbs, you catch a glimpse of the magnificent conservatory on the hill.

The scent of orchids intermingled with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee lead you to Longwood’s historic ballroom where your day of cultivating connections begins.  You’re surrounded by stunning beauty and thought provoking conversation.

This year’s Symposium boasts fresh perspectives and a delicious menu.  A Bistro style lunch will feature a variety of offerings from soups and salads to risotto cakes and vegetable dumplings.  Fine meats and savory vegetarian options will leave no guest unsatisfied.  Lunch will be held on the elegant Patio of Oranges with lots of opportunity for conversation.

This year’s Symposium will make use of advanced technology forums such as Twitter in addition to recognizable tools like chalk boards to help us creatively answer questions posed by our speakers. The multi-leveled discussion will spark imaginations and generate opportunities for growth in our public gardens.  Interacting with on-line viewers in addition to those in attendance, will allow for collaboration between States and Nations!


The Flower Walk at Longwood Gardens

The day will finish with optional behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects of Longwood Gardens in addition to an optional, limited seating session with speaker, Louise Chawla.  Finish your day at the Symposium by prolonging your exploration and experience Longwood Gardens: Beyond the Garden Gates.

Please join us on March 15th 2013 for The Longwood Graduate Program’s Annual Symposium.  Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community. To register, click here. See you there!


2013 Annual Symposium Coming Soon – Shifting Landscapes: Cultivating Connections with a Broader Community

Here at the LGP, the onset of spring is marked not only by fragrant witchhazels and dancing snowdrops, but the culmination of one of our yearly crowning projects – the Annual Longwood Graduate Symposium.

2013 Annual Symposium

2013 Annual Symposium

On March 15th, 2013, nine months of brainstorming and planning will blossom in one day of engaging lectures and discussion centered on the theme of the public garden’s relevancy within the ever-changing social landscape.  While perhaps a timeless topic, in the past several years it has surfaced at the forefront of discussion in the field of public gardens and cultural institutions at large.  We hope that this symposium will encourage further thought and dialogue on how each public garden or cultural institution might continue to proactively think about how they can best meet existing and new audiences on common ground.

The daylong program will feature a slate of speakers with diverse experiences from within and outside the field of public horticulture, including Asimina Vergou (BGCI London), MaryLynn Mack (Desert Botanical Garden), Kathleen Socolofsky (UC Davis Arboretum), Louise Chawla (University of Colorado), and keynote speaker Gregory Rodriguez (Zocalo Public Square).


Speaker Highlight: Gregory Rodriguez

Gregory Rodriguez

Gregory Rodriguez

Traveling from Los Angeles, California, Gregory Rodriguez will be featured as this year’s Parvis Family Endowment Keynote Speaker.  Rodriguez is the founding director of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University, and currently serves as Executive Director of Zocalo Public Square, a non-profit Ideas Exchange utilizing journalism and live events as a medium to “foster healthier, more cohesive communities by tackling important contemporary questions in an accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit”.   Currently an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Rodriguez has written extensively for prominent publications including the New York TimesNewsweekTimeThe Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. His book, Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race, was listed among the Washington Post’s  “Best Books of 2007”, and won him an invitation as a guest on The Colbert Report in 2008.

Register online to reserve your place at this year’s symposium. Places in the “Special Sessions” tours and workshop fill on a first-come-first-serve basis, so sign up soon to get your first choice! For those who are not able to attend in person, we are offering an online webcast option.

We hope to see you there!



We came, we learned things, and a great time was had by all.

(photos by Nate Tschaenn & Raakel Toppila)

That’s a wrap for our 2012 Symposium! Months of hard work came to fruition at last on March 2, where we had a beautiful day to enjoy the Longwood displays and hospitality, as well as fantastic presentations by our speakers.

With well over a hundred attendees and twenty-one webcast audience members signing in from across the country (and even the UK), the Symposium went smoothly thanks to the diligent leadership of Symposium Lead Fellow Ashby Leavell, along with Assistant Lead Quill Teal-Sullivan. Even with all the parts that each Fellow had to play throughout the day to keep the event running, it’s safe to say that we were still able to enjoy the Symposium itself, as we hope our attendees did!

Our registration table all set up for the day.

Ashby Leavell opening up the Symposium.

Keynote speaker Jerry Borin, former Executive Director of the Columbus Zoo.

John Gwynne, former Chief Creative Officer and Vice President for Design at the Bronx Zoo.

Dr. Alistair Griffiths, Horticultural Science Curator, presents the history and current happenings of the Eden Project in the UK.

Kathy Wagner, Consultant and former Vice President for Conservation and Education at the Philadelphia Zoo.

The first half of the dynamic “storytelling session,” featuring storyteller Sally O’Byrne of the Delmarva Ornithological Society.

The second half of the storytelling session, by Huffington Post books editor Andrew Losowsky. *CLAP* (You had to be there.)

Our final speaker, Catherine Hubbard, Botanical Garden Manager at the Albuquerque BioPark.

Many thanks once again to our wonderful speakers, our sponsors, the Longwood guest services team, and too many others to mention in one place who helped out behind the scenes in different ways. And finally, thanks to all the Symposium attendees, who came out to learn and engage with us and with one another on the issue of conservation messaging at our institutions. We hope the experience was worthwhile for all, and that you will be back for another exciting Symposium next year!

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
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

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

LGP Symposium One Month Away

The Longwood Graduate Symposium, The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimaging our Conservation Message, is less than one month away, and we are busy as bees pulling together the last details of what will be a most enjoyable symposium experience – true to the Longwood tradition.

This year's graphics designed by Wonsoon, Sara, and Felicia



The Guest Relations Committee is dedicated to creating a pleasant and accommodating guest experience for our symposium registrants, so that you may enjoy the lecture sessions to the fullest.  This includes organizing a delicious menu for the day, prepared by Longwood’s in-house catering services.   Coffee and baked goods will be available when registration opens at 8 am – just in case you do not have time to grab breakfast at home.  A lunch buffet will be offered at mid-day, followed by a lovely spread of sweet treats and Longwood’s famous pretzel twists at the afternoon break.  Refreshments will be offered after the final lecture, so please stay for lemonade and a chat with the speakers and guests.


Podium decorated with flowers.


In keeping with the Longwood Graduate Program’s commitment to sustainability, the Guest Relations Committee has made an effort to reduce waste and use of non-recyclable materials.  Your registration packet has been cleverly designed by Fellow Nate Tschaenn to be in a booklet format printed on FSC paper.  The booklet approach will reduce the amount of paper needed to produce the packet compared to previous years. Compostable cutlery and dishware will be used for food service and later sent through Longwood’s composting system.

Ballroom during 2010 Symposium.

If you have not yet registered, please do so soon!  Click here to be directed to our quick and easy online registration system.

And if you are traveling from afar and need a place to stay, the Guest Relations Committee has arranged for discounted rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square for registrants.  Please book by February 16th to reserve your room.  Click here to be directed to the special reservation page.

For more information regarding the symposium, please visit our official website or contact us at


We look forward to seeing you there!

Quill Teal-Sullivan and the Guest Relations Committee



LGP Symposium: Speakers you won’t want to miss!

By now, you’ve hopefully heard about the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium, which is quickly approaching. Held on Friday, March 2nd at Longwood Gardens,  “The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimagining our Conservation Story” is sure to shed new light on how public gardens (and zoos, aquarium, parks, and museums!) can inspire their audiences to advocate for conservation issues.

Our keynote speaker, Jerry Borin, served as the executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for sixteen years. During his tenure, Mr. Borin transformed nearly every aspect of the zoo, galvanized community support for global conservation issues, and cultivated a complete visitor experience. The keynote address will examine how zoos have developed into centers for wildlife conservation through international collaboration, effective messaging, and experiential display.

Dr. Alistair Griffiths will be arriving from the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, to analyze creating a public garden around an environmentalism message. Dr. Griffiths is the Horticultural Science Curator at the Eden Project, and will use the case study of commercializing a critically endangered impatiens to build awareness for conservation of Seychelles flora.

John Gwynne melds plant and animal conservation expertise. Speaking with twenty years of experience with integrated design for conservation messaging at the Bronx Zoo, Mr. Gwynne will examine marketing environmental issues to the typical visitor. He will also explore living museums in the US, and their connections to his international conservation endeavors.

Catherine Hubbard comes to us from the Albuquerque BioPark, which includes a zoo, aquarium, botanic garden, and park. She has over 30 years experience working in both zoos and gardens and will discuss conservation strategies currently employed by American zoo and aquarium facilities.

Kathleen F. Wagner has more than 30 year’s experience, including time at the Philadelphia Zoo and independent consulting with zoos, museums, botanical gardens, interpretive centers, and aquariums throughout the country.  She will bring her experience together to show that successful conservation is about great storytelling and helping people connect the dots. Message relevance and effective evaluation techniques will be discussed.

If successful conservation is all about great storytelling, we need to learn how to tell better stories! To help us do that, we invited Sally O’Byrne and Andrew Losowsky. Sally O’Byrne, President of the Delmarva Ornithological Society and board member of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and the Delaware Nature Society, will share the significance of conservation messaging through the art of storytelling. Andrew Losowsky, award winning journalist, playwright, content curator, thinker, and Books Editor of the Huffington Post, will dramatically explain what makes a story compelling.

Don’t forget to register soon! Please visit the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium Website for more information.



Symposium Update!

If your organization is an APGA member and you’ve received a few copies of our 2012 Symposium brochure, never fear! It’s not a mistake – we wanted you to have extras to pass around your organization or among anyone you know who might be interested in this year’s conservation-themed sessions. Unfortunately we faced a very quick turn-around time when we arranged to have them mailed off, so we were unable to include an explanatory note with the brochures. Be sure to look out for them if you haven’t already received them!

Introducing: the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium!

(written by Ashby Leavell)

The holidays are over, and some of you out there may be wondering what there is to look forward to as you settle in for the winter. Never fear, the 2012 Longwood Graduate Symposium is almost here! Mark your calendars for Friday, March, 2nd when we will be excited to present “The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimagining our Conservation Story.” Join us at Longwood Gardens as we bring zoo and garden experts together to explore how public gardens can inspire audiences to advocate for conservation issues.

Our Speakers Committee worked up until the last minute before the holiday break to put the finishing touches on the schedule of the day and the presenter lineup.  Many thanks to Fellows James Hearsum, Aubree Pack, Abby Johnson, and Martin Smit for organizing an outstanding group of speakers. We are excited to bring you:

Jerry Borin of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Dr. Alistair Griffiths from the Eden Project,  John Gwynne of the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Catherine Hubbard of the Albuquerque BioPark, and Kathy Wagner of the Philadelphia Zoo. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post introducing these compelling speakers, as well as details regarding a special session on better storytelling with Sally O’Byrne of the Delaware Nature Society and Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post.

The Marketing Committee Fellows Felicia Yu, Sara Levin, and Won Soon Park graciously put in overtime this holiday to finalize the Symposium brand, website, and brochure.  Check out our website to register and to learn more about the speakers and schedule of the day:

Working with staff at Longwood Gardens, Guest Relations Committee Fellows Quill Teal- Sullivan and Nate Tschaenn have organized an exceptional attendee experience for our guests on March 2nd. We know you’ll be pleased with their careful attention to detail when the big day arrives. Our Symposium is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors. This year, we have reached out to an enthusiastic network of local gardens, horticultural sponsors, and professional organizations. We have seen tremendous support through both monetary and in-kind donations.  Bravo to Sponsorship chair Raakel Toppila for spearheading these efforts.

Check back here and on our Symposium website to follow our progress and learn more about the event. If you have any questions, please contact us at

2010 Symposium a Success!

On Friday, March 5th all of our hard work came to fruition as we hosted over 140 professionals at Longwood Gardens for People, Plants, Collections: Making the Connection. We saw attendees from 12 states and 66 institutions, and had over 120 virtual viewers log in for the live webcast of our keynote session!

The day begins as registrants start to arrive!

All of the speakers provided fantastic insight into our topic. Tim Merriman started off the day with a rousing discussion on how to foster emotional connections between people and collections. Galen Gates used his expertise to provide the collections planning perspective. Gail and Barry Lord presented on how cultural change has affected gardens throughout history. Jim Folsom and Kitty Connolly delighted us all, speaking about how to cultivate wonder among visitors. And Christine Flanagan led a breakout session that got attendees talking about planning strategically when facing real-life challenges. All of the sessions were recorded and will be made available through Longwood Gardens’ Green Stream web site in mid-May.

A packed Ballroom listens to one of the sessions.

This year, over 20 organizational sponsors provided significant support for this event, and we would like to express our appreciation for their continued support of the Longwood Graduate Program Annual Symposium. Additionally, we would also like to thank our Former Fellows for their contributions, support, and encouragement.

Attendees enjoy lunch in the Ballroom.

Thank you to all of the speakers, attendees, sponsors, Longwood staff, and LGP staff and fellows who made the 2010 Annual Symposium not only possible, but lots of fun!

The Symposium speakers and the LGP Fellows pose for a picture at the end of a successful day!

Almost there…

With the 2010 Symposium around the corner, the Guest Relations Committee has been hard at work preparing for the day’s activities. It has been a flurry of activity around the office..stuffing registration packets, making registrant lists, producing name tags and finalizing catering details.

Amidst all of this last minute excitement, we’ve also been reminded of those generous parties who have helped make this year’s Symposium possible – our sponsors. This facet of Symposium planning got off to an early start last fall when Sponsorship Leader, Daniel Stern, began contacting area gardens, local businesses and other professional organizations about supporting the event. Throughout October and November, each of the Fellows had an opportunity to join Daniel in meeting with one of our sponsors and gain some valuable professional experience in the nuances of cultivating donor relations.

Dongah and Keelin enjoying some time in the garden following a sponsorship visit to Chanticleer

With several additions to our growing list of supporters, we had a banner year too! Several sponsors including the American Horticultural Society, the Association of Nature Center Administrators,the American Public Gardens Association, Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the National Association of Interpretation helped us spread the word about the Symposium through advertising space and emails to their members. We received other valuable in-kind support from Event Network, the Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square and Lord Cultural Resources.

We also received a tremendous amount of financial support from the following list of local gardens, businesses, and other entities.

Zoe taking in the view from atop “Tree Adventure” after a sponsorship meeting with the Morris Arboretum’s Director Paul Meyer

And finally, we were delighted with the amount of support we received from Former Fellows of our very own Longwood Graduate Program. Not only were all of these donations essential in helping to offset some of the significant costs associated with putting on the event, they represent a tremendous vote of confidence in the Symposium and the Longwood Graduate Program as a whole. Again, we are so grateful for the support from all our sponsors and are excited that we will see many of them in attendance at the event!

Shari and Dan hamming it up in the garden after a sponsorship meeting at Tyler Arboretum