We’re (almost) Halfway There: LGP First-Year Fellows in the Midst of Thesis Work

While the second-year Fellows are preparing to defend and defending their theses, the first-year Fellows are hard at work tackling their research projects. The Class of 2017’s theses cover a wide range of topics, from human resources-related issues to food systems education and Millennial engagement in public gardens. Keep reading to learn more about their individual research!

LGP Class of 2017. Back row: (left to right) Grace Parker, Erin Kinley, Alice Edgerton. Front row: Elizabeth Barton and Tracy Qiu

LGP Class of 2017. Back row: (left to right) Grace Parker, Erin Kinley, and Alice Edgerton. Front row: Elizabeth Barton and Tracy Qiu

Tracy Qiu is researching racial diversity in public horticulture leadership. She will be performing interviews with leaders in the public horticulture field who represent racial diversity in the workforce. Through her research, she hopes to identify pipelines to leadership for minorities and people of color, perceptions of diversity in the field, barriers and challenges, and areas for future success.

Grace Parker is investigating succession planning in public horticulture. Her goal is to build a body of research that identifies the status of succession planning in public horticulture and to determine best practices for our unique field. Grace is currently concluding preliminary interviews with 30 gardens within the American Public Garden Association membership, and plans to follow up with focus groups and case studies.

Booderee Botanic Gardens, Australia. Both at home and abroad, the first-year Fellows engage with leaders from around the world to discuss hot topics in public horticulture.

Erin Kinley is evaluating food systems education and interpretation in U.S. public gardens. By partnering with the American Public Garden Association and Benveniste Consulting, Erin just received survey data back from over 100 gardens in the U.S. and Canada to determine the scope and content of food systems programming at public gardens. Next, she will be conducting phone interviews and on-site observations of select programs to identify best practices for food systems education at public gardens.

Alice Edgerton is exploring racial diversity in public garden internship programs. She believes this topic is an intersection of two of public horticulture’s most pressing challenges: the lack of young people entering the profession of horticulture and the need to diversify public garden staff. Alice will soon be interviewing current and former interns of color as well as internship administrators—feel free to contact her if you are interested in being interviewed (alice.edgerton@gmail.com)!

Elizabeth Barton’s thesis work investigates Millennial engagement with cultural institutions, specifically public gardens. She is interested in helping gardens cultivate and communicate with a Millennial audience. Elizabeth plans to explore this timely topic through a series of surveys, phone interviews, and case studies.


Blue Mountains Botanic Garden-Mount Tomah, Australia. From succession planning to Millennial engagement, the LGP Class of 2017 is engaged in a variety of research topics critical to the future of public horticulture.

For more information about the LGP Class of 2017, check out their bios on the Longwood Graduate Program website, or visit their personal websites (hyperlinked with their names in the descriptions above).