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Catching a Jaguar by the Tail

Capturing the attention of those beyond the “usual suspects” of botanical garden enthusiasts often requires creative leveraging of all available assets. These assets may include emblematic “umbrella” species outside of the plant kingdom. In the case of the Vallarta Botanical Garden (VBG), jaguars and parrots have become “poster children” for inspiring people to protect the forests these animals rely upon. The ways in which the thriving presence of these animals help determine overall forest health make for compelling cases to even those not particularly enthralled with plants. 

Get on the Path Toward Understanding Your Audiences and Impact

Many gardens collect basic information on their visitors as they walk through the gate, however traditional demographics only scratch the surface when trying to understand our audiences and impact. We can describe our visitors superficially, but how do we know what we’re doing is relevant, provoking, and engaging to them? Presenters will explore various methodologies for audience research and program evaluation. They will present ways to help garden staff understand their current audience and evaluate the effectiveness of their work. 


The Renovation of Asa Gray Garden: Beauty, Inspiration, Botany, and Education

A collaborative relationship between Asa Gray Garden at Mount Auburn (an active cemetery), architects, and nearby Arnold Arboretum resulted in a beautiful and inspiring garden featuring trees, shrubs, and perennials that provide color, texture, and year-round interest while incorporating collections with strong botanical and educational value. The garden’s plant list was developed to celebrate Cemetery “resident” Dr. Asa Gray, whose work with herbarium specimens resulted in his groundbreaking biogeographical hypothesis.

Nature's Fun I Swear: Engaging High School Students in Outdoor Education

Public gardens across the United States and Canada are exposing young adults to the outdoors through interesting and innovative programs. From daily hands-on field trips to youth movements to partnerships with schools, students are developing a better understanding of their environment and a greater appreciation of how they can impact their natural surroundings. Through innovative student programming gardens can support a love of nature and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

#Future Green Collar: Engaging Young People with Careers in Horticulture

How can public gardens reach out to young people and engage them with careers that include horticulture and plant science, to ensure the future of their workforce and skills succession? How can this work be transferred into activity with the partners—specifically public gardens? This session will explore examples from Seed Your Future, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Trees Atlanta, Morton Arboretum, Longwood Gardens, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and New Orleans Botanical Garden to discuss how gardens can begin to weave career exploration into its programming. 

Breakthrough Design Initiatives for Your Public Garden

Award-winning landscape designer, author, and thought leader Julie Moir Messervy shares her design studio’s visioning process that allows stakeholders to collaborate in creating special gardens of beauty and meaning for their public gardens. With an understanding of the creative thinking that produces an innovative landscape, you and your staff can create breakthrough design initiatives that delight visitors and draw fundraising and publicity opportunities.


J. Messervy, J. Bryan, Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS), Saxton River, Vermont

Engaging Diverse Audiences in Conservation and Research through Citizen Science

Citizen science offers the opportunity to actively involve a variety of audiences both on site and in communities with our collections, our research, and our conservation activities, increasing scientific and environmental literacy as well as awareness of our work. This session will outline the key components of a successful citizen science project: program, purpose, partnerships, participants, and product (outputs).

Adopting a 'More than Less Bad' Paradigm at South Coast Botanical Garden

Located on a former landfill, South Coast Botanic Garden employed a regenerative and systematic paradigm and approach for the design of the Creek Garden and Lake in order to holistically manage large amounts of off-site stormwater, conserve water through rainwater harvesting, restore habitat, and create a fantastic place while showcasing these values through garden design and education.

Celebrating Water: How Three Gardens Tell Their Story of Water Conservation Through the Lens of Place

Water is a precious resource, and water scarcity issues are closely interrelated with climate change worldwide. While each of our gardens have different regional challenges when it comes to water collection, conservation, and reuse; public gardens are uniquely positioned to celebrate water and educate visitors about the importance of water conservation. Three gardens from very different climates have integrated the celebration of water into their gardens in very different ways.


Empathy in Action: Using Design Thinking Tools to Understand Our Audiences

Design thinking is a useful framework for working through any number of challenges public gardens face. Design thinking is a dynamic process that goes through four basic steps and provides us with techniques like developing personas, creating experience maps, and evaluating user experience to help us more deeply understand our audience.


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