Longwood Gardens today announced the five talented professionals selected for its prestigious Longwood Gardens Fellows Program, continuing a legacy of developing global leaders in horticulture that began in 1958. After a rigorous selection process, the Fellows chosen are Sadie Barber (Scotland); Eleanor Gould (Virginia); Erin Hepfner (Massachusetts); Chelsea Mahaffey (Virginia) and Caroline Tait (England). For information on the Fellows Program, visit www.longwoodgardens.org/longwood-fellows.
“We are excited to welcome the incoming cohort to the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program,” said Paul B. Redman, President and CEO of Longwood Gardens. “The impressive qualifications of these talented professionals coupled with their passion for advancing public horticulture and a desire to lead, perfectly positions them to tackle the challenging and enriching opportunities awaiting them in the Fellows Program,” said Redman.
During the 13-month, fully funded, cohort-based residency at Longwood, Fellows delve into topical issues relevant to public horticulture today such as leadership, organizational behavior, board relations and governance, communications and other relevant business-related content. A two-month field placement provides a deeper understanding of these issues, equipping Fellows to lead organizations into a vibrant and sustainable future. Alumni of the Fellows Program join the prestigious Society of Fellows, a global network of public garden professionals.
Thousands of students from across the globe have participated in Longwood’s renowned and intensive education programs. Since 1958, the Gardens have led in the creation and development of innovative horticulture education, ranging from high school and college internships, to the two-year Professional Gardener Program to the Longwood Fellows Program, the world’s preeminent program designed to build leadership capacity in public gardens. Graduates have gone on to leadership roles in many of the world’s top horticultural institutions. Nominations and applications for the 2019 cohort will open September 1, 2018. Learn more at www.longwoodgardens.org/longwood-fellows.
Sadie Barber is on sabbatical from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she has worked in the Horticulture Division since 2006. Her role as senior horticulturist includes the curation of a large Gesneriaceae collection, leading to species discovery, taxonomic revisions, and answering questions on evolutionary development. As part of the “Floristic Diversity of Indonesia” team, Sadie participated in expeditions to Sumatra and West Papua, and was an expedition leader for fieldwork in Sulawesi. These expeditions succeeded in building strong partnerships in Indonesia, bringing unique living collections to cultivation and discovering species new to science. Recently, Sadie led a cross-divisional team to deliver a hugely successful titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) flowering event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The flowering was a first for Scotland and attracted 20,000 visitors to the Garden. Sadie holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in Photography, Film, and Television from Napier University, a Higher National Diploma in Horticulture with Plantsmanship from the University of Glasgow, as well as Certificates in Field Botany and Media Communications. She is interested in how public gardens can work together to engage audiences in an effort to address “plant blindness.” Sadie intends to eventually sit as an Executive Director of a public garden where she can collaborate with those in research, public engagement, and education to help study and conserve the increasingly threatened flora of the world.
Eleanor Gould arrives to Longwood having served as Curator of Gardens at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. Prior to that role, she was assistant gardener in Monticello’s fruit, flower and vegetable gardens. Her most recent work includes maintenance, management, interpretation and documentation of the historic gardens. She also served on the program committee for the annual Heritage Harvest Festival. She has worked to expand the Jefferson-documented plant collection at Monticello and shared her daily photographs of the garden on social networks. She attended the University of Virginia and graduated with a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture in 2010. Eleanor intends to maintain the spirit of a “young gardener” throughout her career while continuing to advance into a senior position within public horticulture.
Erin Hepfner joins the Longwood Fellows Program from Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha’s Vineyard where she served as the Visitor Services & Resource Specialist. In this position, she managed the Visitor Center, volunteer and tour programs and supported botanical outreach programs. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Horticulture from the University of Maine, Erin completed horticulture internships at Longwood Gardens and The Filoli Center. She has held seasonal horticulturist positions at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and at Mytoi, a property of The Trustees. Her educational pursuits include a Master of Arts in Sustainable Landscape Design from The Conway School and completion of a National Outdoor Leadership School course. Erin is passionate about inspiring people to connect with public gardens and is seeking to develop a greater understanding of community engagement and marketing and communications to ensure public gardens remain vibrant in their cultural and ecological landscape. As she broadens her professional experience, her long-term career goal is to serve as a garden’s Executive Director and to be a role model in the horticultural industry.
Chelsea Mahaffey most recently served as Conservatory Horticulturist at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to managing the highly visible Conservatory and Community Kitchen Garden, she worked closely with the Garden’s social media program to curate engaging content and worked with staff members on community engagement initiatives to train neighborhood gardeners. Through this work, Chelsea discovered her interest in connecting her passion for plants with people to engage a new generation of gardeners and community activists. She has also worked as a Greenhouse Grower at Peace Tree Farm in Kitnersville, Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown. In both roles, her focus was on forcing annuals and perennials for the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. Chelsea is currently the Vice Chair of the Emerging Professional Community of the American Public Gardens Association. She received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Temple University. Following the Fellows Program, Chelsea plans to pursue a Director of Horticulture position; in ten years she sees herself in an Executive Director role, using her position to actively promote horticulture as a viable, rewarding career.
Caroline Tait is a self-taught nursery propagator, gardener, florist, designer, and business woman with a strong desire to make gardens and gardening inclusive and easy for all. She will complete the Fellows Program while on sabbatical from Coton Manor Garden in Northampton, UK, where for more than 25 years she developed the nursery from modest beginnings to a thriving business. As designer and implementer of projects in her own business, Caroline completed garden builds for London townhouse plots and country garden acreage, while teaching clients the skills and confidence to love and nurture their own garden. A silver-gilt medal winner at the Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Flower Show 2013, Caroline collaboratively designed a recycled fridge mountain garden planted with alpines as a comment on our fragile relationship with the earth and its resources. Caroline received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Ecology from Queen Mary College, University of London. As a Longwood Fellow, Caroline is looking forward to learning about future-proofing a business while developing staff and broadening visitor experience and knowledge. Caroline envisions herself leading a large public garden and then going on to develop a consultancy role visiting gardens around the world, advising on projects related to community engagement and change management.
About Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens is one of the great gardens of the world, encompassing 1,083 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and a 4-acre grand Conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by founder Pierre S. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education, and the arts. Longwood’s foremost influence on American horticulture has been through its Education programs, in keeping with Mr. du Pont’s desire to establish “a school where students and others may receive instruction in the arts of horticulture and floriculture.” Since 1958, thousands of students from all over the world have participated in one or more of Longwood’s intensive programs, ranging from School & Youth Programs which educates 45,000 students both online and in person each year, to the two-year Professional Gardener Program to the Fellows Program. Graduates have gone on to leadership roles in many of the country’s top horticultural institutions. For more information, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.