The American Public Gardens Association this week announced the winners of its 2016 member awards. The awards honor the public horticulture industry’s most influential and pioneering individuals and organizations. The award recipients were honored during the Association’s Annual Conference held from June 6-10, 2016 at the InterContinental Miami hotel in Miami, Florida.

“These awards allow us to recognize the best and brightest in the industry. It is an honor to showcase the remarkable leadership and achievements of our many exceptional members,” said Casey Sclar, Executive Director of the Association.

The 2016 American Public Gardens Association awards and winners are: 

  • Honorary Life Member Award: American Public Gardens Association confers its most prestigious award, the Honorary Life Member Award, upon an individual who has provided meritorious service to the Association over a long period of time and has displayed an uncommon devotion to the field of public horticulture.
    • Winner: Jane G. Pepper, President (Ret.), Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Philadelphia, PA), has been a driving force in the horticulture and public horticulture industries for more than three decades, and her career and influence have been extensive.
  • Association Service Award: This award is reserved for an individual who has shown selfless service to the organization through work as a Professional Committee member, Service Committee member, and/or Board member.
    • Winner: Dr. Richard Lighty, Director (Ret.), Mt. Cuba Center (Greenville, DE), and Sally Lighty, were both recognized for their longtime commitment to the field of public horticulture and American Public Gardens Association.
  • Award of Merit: The Award of Merit recognizes an American Public Gardens Association 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 will encompass some combination of botany, horticulture, conservation, gardening, research, extension, education, development, or administration.
    • Winner: Paul Redman, Director, Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA), is an extraordinary leader in the world of public gardens, known for his dedication to the beauty and sustainability of gardens and  the training of future garden professionals.
    • Winner: Chipper Wichman, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, National Tropical Botanical Garden (Kalaheo, HI), has used his leadership to make the National Tropical Botanical Garden a world-class botanic and conservation garden.
  • Professional Citation Award: The Professional Citation recognizes the significant achievements in public horticulture of an American Public Gardens Association member who has excelled in one of the disciplines generally associated with public gardens such as botany, horticulture, gardening, conservation, research, education, extension, development, or administration. A recipient may be at the early-to mid-point of their prestigious career.
    • Winner: Cynthia Druckenbrod, Vice President of Horticulture, Cleveland Botanical Gardens (Cleveland, OH), has boundless passion and enthusiasm for growing and sharing horticultural knowledge that helps spark lasting connections between people and plants.
  • Program Excellence Award: This award is reserved for an American Public Gardens Association Garden member who has displayed a truly innovative spirit in the development of an original program and has pioneered in one or more of the disciplines appropriate to public horticultural institutions, including education, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension, or administration.
    • Winner (Small Budget): Jardin Botanico De Cicieana (Mexico City, MX), has an environmental education focus and uses school and community gardens to provide sustainable, nutritional, and economic alternatives while teaching about conservation, human development, and socio-environmental topics.
    • Winner (Large Budget): Landscape for Life, a program of the United States Botanic Garden (Washington, DC) and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin, TX), is an innovative, original, multidisciplinary program that is applicable to all landscapes and gardens. The pioneering program, which is based on the principals of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES®), teaches the concepts of sustainable home gardening to the general public.
  • Dorothy E. Hansell Marketing Award: This award pays tribute to Dorothy E. Hansell, a woman who championed excellence in horticultural and botanical journalism. It recognizes an Outstanding Marketing & Communications Campaign that Powerfully Advances a Public Garden’s Mission.
    • Winner: The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL) “The Champion of Trees” brand revived the garden’s focus, caught press attention, and enabled the garden to distill its existing mission as a confident organization wildly passionate about trees. Membership rose 15% in the first year of its launch.
  • Award for Garden Excellence: This award is given to a public garden that exemplifies the highest standards in horticultural practices. Recipient gardens are selected by peers.
    • Winner: Crosby Arboretum (Picayune, MS) is dedicated to educating the public about the environment and maintains a mission to preserve, protect, and display plants native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin ecosystem of southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.
  • Operational Sustainability Award: This award is given to an American Public Gardens Association member garden, or coalition of gardens, in recognition of their outstanding dedication and achievements in promoting sustainability through their programs, operation, facilities and/or research.
    • Winner: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Pittsburg, PA) is an internationally recognized leader in sustainable buildings, practices, programs, and research. In 2006, they built the first and only LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified greenhouse.

These award winners set a professional precedent for other individuals and organizations to follow. The nomination process begins in the fall and winners are announced during the American Public Gardens Association’s Annual Conference each June.  A ten-member committee, whose volunteers serve as leaders in the public garden community, selects the finalists and winners.