People and Gardens

October 2012


The Dyck Arboretum names Scott Vogt new executive director                         

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains Board of Trustees took action on June 5 to name Scott Vogt of Hesston College as the new executive director of the Arboretum after a nationwide search. 

Vogt has served as interim director of the Arboretum since November 2011, and his qualifications placed him above more than twenty applicants from around the country – many of whom serve as directors and managers at arboretums and gardens of various sizes. 

“Scott’s commitment and passion for the Arboretum and  his years of knowledge about the community, the plant world, and the intention of the Dyck Arboretum’s mission made him the best candidate to lead the Arboretum into the next phase,” said Christine Downey-Schmidt, Arboretum board member and co-chair of the search committee. 

Vogt has been employed by the Arboretum since 1997, serving as horticulturist and grounds manager. He earned a BS in horticulture from Kansas State University (Manhattan). 

As executive director he serves as the Arboretum’s chief administrative officer, managing its operations and development through long-range planning, fund-raising, administration, programming and outreach. Vogt and the other Arboretum staff – Brad Guhr and Janelle Flory Schrock – are planning events to broaden the support of the Arboretum, increase membership, and promote the mission to educate people about the benefits of native and adaptable plants. 

“I am humbled by the opportunity set before me,” said Vogt. “I believe what the Arboretum is doing is important not only locally, but regionally and nationally. It is my job to promote the Arboretum at every opportunity because what we do here can have far reaching growth and impact.” 

“Looking at talent on a nationwide basis made it clear what kind of valuable resource we have in Scott,” said Don Weaver, Dyck Arboretum board chair and co-chair of the search committee. “We have been pleased with his performance over the interim period, and we are excited about the leadership he will provide to the Arboretum in the future.” 

The Dyck Arboretum features native Kansas plants and trees. Established in October 1981 as a gift to Hesston College from Harold and Elva Mae Dyck, the Arboretum is owned and operated by Hesston College. It has since matured into one of the largest native plant gardens in the region as it offers the community a place for quiet reflection, appreciating nature, education, and entertainment. 


Mark Richardson has been named new horticulture director for New England Wild Flower Society

The New England Wild Flower Society announced Mark Richardson as Director of Horticulture. In this position, he oversees all horticultural activities at the Society’s botanic garden, Garden in the Woods, located at 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA, and the plant research and development work at Nasami Farm located at 128 North Street, Whately, MA.

Debbi Edelstein, executive director, stated, “Mark has an intriguing combination of strategic vision, skills, and experience that impressed everyone who interviewed him.”

A native of Rhode Island, Mark worked for four years as the assistant manager of a forty-five-acre nursery while earning his BS in urban horticulture at the University of Rhode Island. He then received his MS in public horticulture from the University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program. New degree in hand, he was asked by Longwood Gardens to run the undergraduate programs, and he spent his five years on staff in roles that encompassed strategic program development, design and development of a new garden area, and even leading the entire education department (with its $2.6 million budget) for seven months during the search for a new director. He left Longwood for Brookside Gardens, a botanic garden that is part of the Parks Department of Montgomery County, Maryland, where he served as the manager of adult education programs and frequent horticulture instructor/lecturer/author (and he developed a strategic plan for technology in the garden!).

While he has enjoyed his work in education, his passion is plants, and he is excited to be shifting back to horticulture and bringing his family home to their roots in New England.


UC Davis Arboretum director Kathleen Socolofsky is to be honored 

Kathleen Socolofsky, director of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, will be honored October 5 with an Award of Distinction from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) at the University of California, Davis.

The award is presented annually to those whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education, and innovative outreach. Socolofsky is being recognized as a Friend of the College for her role in transforming the campus landscape with innovative programs and broad-based support. Seven other people—faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college—will also receive the award.

“The Award of Distinction recipients are highly accomplished, as well as influential in their daily lives, and we are honored by their strong connection to and support of our college,” said Mary Delany, interim CA&ES dean. “We look forward to recognizing these eight remarkable people at our annual fall harvest celebration where we step aside from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life to celebrate the vital linkage of such individuals to our mission of serving the public good by advancing agriculture, human communities, and the environment.”

Socolofsky arrived at UC Davis in 1998 and built staff leadership skills while making operational changes to improve the appearance and experience of the UC Davis Arboretum’s gardens. This led to growth in plant sales, memberships, and annual donations and endowment gifts. Socolofsky next led a community-centered assessment, resulting in a ten-year strategic plan to guide the arboretum’s growth.

She has built partnerships across the campus and in the community that have led to major infrastructure improvements, including new paths, plantings, benches, interpretive signs, and  computer-controlled irrigation systems. Plant records and collection maps have been upgraded with computer software to a museum-science standard. New gardens have been constructed, including the Arboretum Terrace Garden’s home demonstration garden and the Native American Contemplative Garden. The Redwood Grove has been completely renovated, as were the Storer Garden, East Asian Collection, Acacia Grove, and others.

Socolofsky oversaw development of the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, a new facility with spaces for garden education and demonstration plantings that showcase Arboretum All-Stars plants, California native plants, and pollinator plants. More recently, Socolofsky helped launch the UC Davis Public Garden, an initiative to transform the campus into a series of sustainable teaching landscapes with links to academic programs.

The arboretum has partnered with a number of CA&ES programs, such as the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion program co-directed by associate dean Diane Ullman and local artist Donna Billick. Their collaboration transformed the Peter J. Shields Oak Grove into a destination for visitors and led to the development of Nature’s Gallery, a ceramic mosaic mural in the arboretum that features native plants and insects. Socolofsky is leading the UC Davis GATEways (Gardens, Arts, and the Environment) Project to tie the arboretum more closely to the campus. 


Cleveland Botanical Garden becomes first in Ohio to earn certification from Sustainable Sites Initiative

Cleveland Botanical Garden’s commitment to conservation earned certification from the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) this week, making it the first organization in Ohio and one of just 11 nationwide to receive the designation.

SITES announced eight newly certified projects, including the Garden’s effort to integrate best green practices into its operations and landscaping techniques while also showing its guests how to do the same at their own houses and places of work. Of the eight organizations to receive SITES certification this week, the Garden was the only one to achieve a three-star rating.

“The Garden is committed to promoting green living to our guests and the Greater Cleveland community at large, and the best way to do that is by example,” says Garden Executive Director Natalie Ronayne. “We hope people will come to the Garden, see what we do here to preserve the environment, and then take home some ideas of what they can do.”

Sustainable features added as part of the Garden’s two-year effort to achieve SITES certification include a low-maintenance lawn along East Boulevard, a rain garden that captures runoff, native plants, and a green roof that reduces energy costs and slows stormwater runoff.

Also, the Garden now trains all new employees in green practices and has established a Sustainability Action Committee that monitors Garden operations to ensure adherence to sustainable practices. The committee has set a goal of reducing the Garden’s ecological footprint by 15 percent in two years.

While some conservation efforts are behind the scenes – such as composting leftover food from the Garden Café– others are more apparent. The Woodland Garden, for example, now showcases two hundred native plant species where invasive plants once grew, according to Director of Horticulture Cynthia Druckenbrod, who spearheaded the Garden’s attempt to gain SITES certification. Fairmount Minerals in Chardon provided funding for the Garden to implement many of the sustainability measures.

SITES is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin, and the US Botanic Garden that rates the sustainability of built landscapes and is at the conclusion of its two-year pilot program.

Cleveland Botanical Garden is an ever-changing urban escape where you’ll find enrichment and inspiration through fabulous gardens, an exotic Glasshouse, and enchanting events. We make our community greener and healthier by growing young lives and restoring land throughout the city.


USBG Landscape Architect passes Landscape Architecture Registration Exam

Nick Nelson, landscape architect at the U.S. Botanic Garden, recently passed the Landscape Architecture Registration Exam (LARE), paving the way for licensure.

The LARE is the North American standard set of exams that one must pass to become a fully licensed landscape architect. The exam is administered over the course of several months, testing project and construction administration, site analysis, planning and site design, structural considerations and materials and methods of construction and grading, drainage, and stormwater management.

Licensure is the standard of excellence for landscape architects in private practice, but Nick used the test as motivation to study aspects of the landscape architecture field that are not everyday job duties at the Botanic Garden.

Nick passed all five components on the first attempt and has earned the honor and distinctive title of Landscape Architect.


Cheyenne Botanic Gardens initiative passes in optional sales tax vote

The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens was recently on the Laramie County ballot to fund major greenhouse renovations and construct a new greenhouse/conservatory. The initiative also included funding for operations, maintenance, and road realignment for increased safety. The ballot proposal total is $16 million. On August 21, local voters passed this proposition by 56 percent. The new greenhouse conservatory will also include meeting rooms, classrooms, garden store, and an educational Scope Pavillion,that will feature a Navy submarine periscope, a microscope experience, and a rooftop telescope viewing area.

The campaign mounted by the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens' board and staff included numerous community presentations, print and web publicity, along with the encouragement of residents to tie green ribbons on trees in lieu of using yard signs.

“We are pleased and humbled by this positive vote from the people of Cheyenne and Laramie County. This will enable us to continue to provide and expand our services, develop more youth educational offerings, and increase our attractiveness to regional, national, and international tourists. We look forward to a bright future for the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and our community. We will continue to be handmade by the volunteers of our city and county. The Gardens will now be able to grow as Cheyenne grows and can proudly showcase the fact that Cheyenne really is an oasis on the High Plains,” stated Cheyenne Botanic Gardens Director Shane Smith.

Depending upon the economy, the tax will likely be fully collected in a total of five years. The anticipated time to begin construction is up in the air, as city officials are investigating affordable finance options to start construction earlier rather than face negative impacts of inflation, loss of the dollar’s value, and rising interest rates.


Cleveland Botanical Garden aims to grow with new website 

The Cleveland Botanical Garden has launched a beautifully designed website full of rich editorial content and vibrant photography aimed at positioning the Garden as a destination where you’ll find enrichment, inspiration, and fun.

The colors and photography of the new site,, will change with the seasons, just as the Garden itself does. It will showcase Garden events and blooms more prominently, offer monthly tips from Garden horticulturists about tending to your home garden, and allow you to share favorite Garden pages via social networks.

For the first time, guests to the Garden will be able to buy their single-day admission online; and the website makes it easy for visitors to buy memberships and make donations to the Garden and Green Corps, its urban-farming program for Cleveland teens.

“This new website certainly immerses you in the beauty and ever-changing nature of the Garden, and it also allows us to connect with new audiences and grow our attendance and membership,” says Garden Executive Director Natalie Ronayne.

Adds Peter Vertes, the Garden’s marketing and communications director: “Most botanical garden websites look more like they belong to institutions rather than destinations. We feel we’ve broken new ground by pushing the sense of destination. Beyond that, there is considerable marketing muscle behind the new site; and it is optimized to make it easy for our key audiences to find us online.”

TWIST Creative Inc. of Cleveland designed the website with input from the Garden’s staff. Bayshore Solutions of Tampa and Garden staff built the site.

A new mobile-optimized site, also designed by TWIST, will launch soon. It will allow you to buy tickets to the Garden from your smartphone and include key features of the website.


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden receives Institute of Museum and Library Services grant for their Fairchild Challenge program


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently announced that Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of nine organizations to receive 21st Century Museum Professionals grants totaling $1,968,346.

“By receiving this grant award, The Fairchild Challenge is being recognized for its innovation in STEM Education and as a model that will allow informal education organizations to make significant contributions to STEM literacy in the United States,” says Amy Padolf, director of education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

With this funding, Fairchild will expand the successful Fairchild Challenge to additional national partner sites and provide intensive training for current partner sites. The Fairchild Challenge is an innovative approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education that identifies and encourages talented young scientists through a multidisciplinary approach and competition.

"These grants help museum professionals acquire, improve, and maintain their knowledge and skills," said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. "The projects we're funding have impact and public value well beyond the nine grantees and their service areas."

About the Fairchild Challenge
The Fairchild Challenge is a multidisciplinary, environmental education outreach program for elementary, middle, and high school students. Designed as a competition that appeals to students’ intellectual curiosity, the Fairchild Challenge encourages students to appreciate the beauty and value of nature and learn about environmental issues, to research possible solutions and evaluate them critically, to modify their own behavior, and to become actively engaged citizens. The Fairchild Challenge currently involves more than 150,000 students internationally. Through its Satellite Program, institutions around the world are adapting the program to their communities. The Fairchild Challenge is offered free of charge to interested elementary, middle, and high schools. For more information, visit