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Annual Awards

The American Public Gardens Association Awards are a showcase that celebrates the hard work and contributions of our member institutions and individuals in all areas of public horticulture. These award winners serve as inspiration within our field, demonstrating professional excellence, innovative thinking, long-term dedication, and much more!   

Nominations for 2023 Awards are now open and will be accepted until January 18, 2023. Award winners will be notified in early March and awarded in person at the 2023 Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Nomination forms can be found under each award description below.  

If you have questions about the awards program or the nomination process, please email info@publicgardens.org

Click any award title for a list of past winners.
Click current winners for their award videos.

Professional Individual Member Awards

Honorary Life Member

The Honorary Life Member Award is the most esteemed award for the American Public Gardens Association, presented to an individual member towards the latter part of their distinguished career. Generally given to an individual nearing or in retirement, the Honorary Life Member Award recognizes their exemplary service, steadfast leadership, and uncommon dedication to all areas in the field of public horticulture. This individual will have supported the Association through active committee work, energetic membership, and leadership positions, and their efforts will have contributed to the advancement of the Association as well as to the missions and values of public gardens. Given the status of this award, it is not expected to be given on an annual basis. 

2020 Award Winner
Paul Meyer, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
not awarded in 2021 or 2022

Award of Merit

The Award of Merit recognizes an American Public Gardens Association individual member who has performed with distinction in the field of public horticulture and has excelled as a public garden professional at one or more institutions. The recipient's accomplishments can support public gardens in many ways, including but not limited to botany, horticulture, operations, maintenance, conservation, gardening, research, extension, education, marketing, visitor services, development, or administration. The intent is that this award be given to an individual during the mid-to-latter part of their career.  

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2022 Award Winner
Ronnit Bendavid-Val, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Professional Citation

The Professional Citation Award recognizes the achievements of an American Public Gardens Association individual member who has excelled in one of the disciplines that support the missions and values of public gardens such as botany, horticulture, operations, maintenance, conservation, gardening, research, extension, education, marketing, visitor services, development, or administration. Recipients may be at the early-to mid part of their career.  

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2022 Award Winner:
Shari Edelson, The Arboretum at Penn State

Service Award

The Service Award is reserved for an individual who has shown selfless service to the organization through work that advances the Professional Communities, service on an Association Committee, and/or the Association’s Board of Directors. This award is nominated by the Board and Association Staff and judged by the Association’s Board of Directors. 

2021 Award Winner:
Tom Smarr
Not awarded in 2022

Institutional Member Awards

Program Excellence Award

The Program Excellence Award is presented to an American Public Gardens Association institutional member who has displayed an engaged and innovative spirit in the development and facilitation of an original and completed public program. Programs can be within one or more of the disciplines appropriate to horticultural institutions including education and outreach, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension, or administration. Programs can take many shapes and forms, including but not limited to exhibitions and interpretation, formal/informal education, community partnership and collaboration, visual arts and performance events, adult learning and workshops, and many more. The committee will take into consideration a garden's operating budget compared to their program budget when determining the award recipient; gardens and programs of all sizes and budget levels are encouraged to apply. 

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2022 Award Winners:
Forest Project, Wave Hill; ArbNet, Morton Arboretum

Award for Garden Excellence

The Award for Garden Excellence is presented to an American Public Gardens Association institutional member who exemplifies garden excellence and is committed to supporting and demonstrating best garden practices. Dedication to regionally appropriate gardening practices, environmentally informed horticulture, plant collections and display, and garden design are some of the criteria taken into consideration when judging this award. Other areas include an institutional member’s support and commitment to horticultural communities, including work and educational opportunities for new garden enthusiasts. The committee will take into consideration a garden’s overall budget when considering this award; gardens of all sizes and budgets are encouraged to apply. This award is for the overall institutional member, nominated gardens will be judged in their entirety. 

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2022 Award Winner:
Vallarta Botanical Garden

Dorothy E. Hansell Marketing Award

The Marketing Award is a tribute to a Dorothy E. Hansell, editor of the New York Botanical Garden’s Garden Journal, the newsletter and bulletin of the Holly Society of America, the American Bonsai Society Journal, and the APGA Bulletin. Hansell’s reputation of excellence in horticultural and botanical journalism was matched by her dedication to developing the discipline within the field of public horticulture. In her honor, the Dorothy E. Hansell Marketing Award recognizes outstanding marketing and communications that advance a public garden’s mission. Nominations can encompass online and in-person marketing and communications campaigns, garden publications, social media, or other tools for garden engagement. The committee will take into consideration a garden’s overall budget compared to their marketing budget when determining the award recipient; gardens and communications of all sizes and budget levels are encouraged to apply. 

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2022 Award Winners:
"This is the Garden You Made" - Houston Botanical Garden; 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show - Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Sustainability Award

The Sustainability Award is presented to an American Public Gardens Association institutional member in recognition of their outstanding dedication and achievements in promoting sustainability through their programs, operations, facilities and/or research. Leadership in the promotion of sustainability can encompass areas such as resource and waste management, integrated pest management, facility design, sustainability research, sustainability certifications, and more! Factors in selecting an award winner include influence, innovation and applicability to the public garden world and beyond. The committee will take into consideration a garden’s overall budget when determining the award recipient; sustainability programs of all sizes and budgets are encouraged to apply. Participation in the Association’s Sustainability Index is not required for nominations, however, institutions participating in the Index are encouraged to include these details as part of their package. 

Self-submission is welcome and encouraged. 

2021 Award Winner:
Duke Farms
Not awarded in 2022

Please note: Gardens are encouraged to self-nominate for the Garden Excellence, Program Excellence, Dorothy E. Hansell, and Sustainability Awards. Standing Association Board Members and Members of the Awards Committee are not eligible for Honorary Life Member, Award of Merit or Professional Citation awards.

 

Looking for Student Travel Awards? They are now part of the Garden Scholars Program under Scholarship Opportunities.