“Don’t get so absorbed in your work that you miss what’s going on around you. I’ve made more of an effort to fully experience the moment personally before I share it with others.”
What is the focus of your work and how does it align with ConnectVA?
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s mission is education. Our passion is connecting people and plants to improve communities. I see my work as connecting people and plants virtually. I love that I am able to share the Garden’s educational mission with a global community. This is new for the 21st Century. You don’t have to visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to learn about the plants here. We have fans from all over the world — Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.
We believe that bringing people and plants together makes for a stronger community. We share that message and explore the interdependence between plants and people — both online and here at the Garden.
One example is the Garden’s Service Learning Program, an on-site example of how we education youth about plants and human interdependence. Young adults, age 13-18, learn about plants, growing food, and learn work and life skills while growing thousands of pounds of fresh, local vegetables for FeedMore in Lewis Ginter’s Community Kitchen Garden (CKG). We actually have a wide variety of volunteering opportunities for all ages in the CKG — you can volunteer through HandsOn Greater Richmond; we even have businesses that volunteer in the CKG.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing how the Garden truly affects people. Put simply — humans need to connect with nature. Studies have shown that people who are able to get out and enjoy nature are more creative, more productive, and happier. We get to help people connect with nature. For those who can’t get away from their desk, we offer a virtual getaway: #MillionBlooms beauty break. I’m also really excited about the Garden’s involvement with Beautiful RVA, a regional coalition of organizations invested in improving the quality of life in the Richmond Region through urban greening, horticulture, and beautiful place-making initiatives.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment.
The biggest recent accomplishment at the Garden doesn’t belong to me, but to our entire Lewis Ginter staff, our volunteers, and the Garden’s fans. Earlier this month Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden came in #2 in USA Today 10 Best Public Gardens contest. The reader’s Choice poll for best public garden drew a record number of votes — hundreds of thousands — it was their second most popular online voting contest ever. This is really a tribute to the hard work by the staff, volunteers and to the incredible support of the Richmond community and Garden fans everywhere.
I’ve learned lots of lessons too. One thing I’ve learned is don’t get so absorbed in your work that you miss what’s going on around you. Recently, I’ve made more of an effort to fully experience the moment personally before I share it with others.
What’s coming next that really excites you?
One really exciting thing is that Butterflies LIVE! opened this week (May 2) and runs through October 13. Also, I get really excited for our free admission day each year on July 4th. We have lots of first-time visitors during our Free Fourth of July Celebration. That day we’ll have kids activities in the Children’s Garden, a parade, live music, and Butterflies LIVE! will also be open that day.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
ConnectVA helps us raise awareness about our organization and our events. We appreciate that we are able to post our events online, help the community learn about what we do at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, and how we contribute to the community.