Since our new strategic plan was developed and implemented in 2018, we have made significant steps toward supporting biocultural diversity and conservation. The following actions and media, just a sampling of our overall 2018 accomplishments, illustrate some of the ways we have met and continue to pursue our strategic goals.

2018 achievements supporting biocultural diversity and conservation

  • Installed new plants labels, including biocultural information, and completed webpages for Mundy Wildflower Garden.
  • Accepted into BGCI’s International Plant Exchange Network Code of Conduct to acquire, maintain and transfer living plant material within the framework of the Convention International Trade in Endangered Species.
  • Identified strategic plan 2018 action: Developing storytelling program to capture oral and written stories of people’s connections with plants. Pilot tested a video story telling platform with interns. Invited Judy’s Day participants to tell the stories of their families’ connections with plants. Evaluating story telling programs and determining how best to capture and share stories in our gardens and programs to nurture the personal connection people have to plants.
  • Peony & Perennial Garden • Visit with Chinese delegation in NYC including lieutenant governor of Henan province; Christopher invited to China in April to attend the Luoyang Peony Festival and meet with floriculturalists specializing in peonies at Henan Agricultural University. • Commitments to fund the Lotus Fountain and water features from a West Coast alumnus, and the Rain Garden from Jim Irish and Andrea Glanz.
  • Engaged 1000 youth, families, Cornell students, staff, and faculty at our Judy’s Day Family Learning Festival with the theme “Plants Have Families, Too.” Eight faculty members and 30 graduate students helped plan 85 activity stations. Pounder Garden grew raw materials and interpreted plant families. Over 100 exhibitors from the community were involved, over 300 Cornell students volunteered. Two classes participated – Art of Horticulture and Naturalist Outreach.
  • First “Flowers After Hours” fundraiser attracted 90 people, and deepened partnership with Chef Tim Oltz and mixologist Max Mandeville in Cornell dining.
  • Taught over 700 elementary school children about our native flora and its importance through our Wildflower Explorations program. This is part of a Tomkins County wide initiative, Kids Discover the Trails, which served 4,400 schoolchildren (80% of the elementary school population).
  • Two graduate students graduated in 2019 in the Public Garden Leadership program; one studying how develop biocultural exhibits, the other is looking at inclusion and diversity at public gardens.
  • Partnered with Cornell to host the American Horticultural Society’s National Youth Gardening Symposium. Our staff presented on engaging with teen audiences, led a tour of Cascadilla Gorge and all conference attendees enjoyed an open house at the Nevin Welcome Center and gardens.
  • Art displayed in the NWC featured Petal Portraits by Jim Kozlowski, Nature’s Mysteries by Helena Cooper, Quilted Critters by Jean Gerow Presentation on Native Plant Propagation to Onondaga County Cooperative Extension.
  • Identified strategic plan 2018 action: We are building biocultural expertise among our staff by determining baseline knowledge & understanding of biocultural conservation, inviting Cornell experts to talk to our staff, sharing articles, and forming a book group to read and learn more. Developing a biocultural conservation and diversity resource library.
  • Identified strategic plan 2018 action: Faculty Fellows program – plans are being made about structure, requirements, possible Faculty Fellows (internal and external to Cornell).
  • Horticulture staff working with Biology Student Leaders to develop a pollinator trail “The Buzzline” from the Dairy Bar to Judd Falls Road. They are designing the garden this fall, and will plant and maintain it in the spring and summer. Using AAD crowdsourcing tool to raise $10,000 for the project by Oct. 15.
  • Hosted 400 people a lecture by Sean Sherman of The Sioux Chef, “The Evolution of the Indigenous Food Systems of North America” in partnership with the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Chef Sherman also participated in a lunch discussion with faculty and students in the AIIS program.
  • Christopher presented major global overview of the role of botanic gardens in biocultural conservation, at international conferences, and published articles on biocultural diversity and conservation.
  • Exhibit in the NWC focuses on Chia, Amaranth, and Quinoa, ancient grains with strong cultural connections. Materials also used in Judy’s Day activities.
  • Co-teaching class support: Introduction to Lithography and outdoor exhibit on Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid impacts at Beebe Lake.
  • Developed, designed and distributed our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan “Connecting Plants and Peoples for a World of Diversity, Beauty, and Hope”.


Media activity:

Judy’s Day Family Learning Festival — Plants have families too! WHCU—September 27, 2018; Raylene Ludgate gives listeners a preview of Judy’s Day and the 85 interactive learning stations that connect people and plants.

Judy’s Day Family Learning Festival is Sept. 30 Cornell Chronicle—September 12, 2018 Judy’s Day Family Learning Festival was highlighted.

The Discovery Trail —Examining wildflowers at the Cornell Botanic Gardens Tompkins Weekly—August 27, 2018; This article, featuring Raylene Ludgate, youth education coordinator, goes in-depth on the impact of Wildflower Explorations, Cornell Botanic Gardens’ educational program for area third graders.

‘Sioux Chef’ on restoring indigenous foods, bridging cultures Cornell Chronicle—October 2, 2018; This article provides highlights of Sean Sherman’s September 5 lecture, in which he described the connections between indigenous food systems, food security, and health. Strategic Link: Connect — Forge collaborations with people of different cultures. Strategic Link: Inspire — Highlight the interconnectedness of plants and people

Chef Sean Sherman discusses Indigenous Foods at Cornell Botanic Gardens lecture series WRFI—September 4, 2018 Sean Sherman was interviewed by WRFI in a feature that aired in advance of his lecture as part of the Fall Lecture Series. This interview resulted from direct pitching to area radio producers. Strategic Link: Connect — Forge collaborations with people of different cultures. Strategic Link: Inspire — Highlight the interconnectedness of plants and people; create installations and events to connect to diverse audiences

Sioux Chef Founder to discuss indigenous food Ithaca Journal—August 30, 2018 This talk in Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Fall Lecture Series was included in a “best of” round up in the Ithaca Journal. This resulted from active outreach to local media, promoting the lecture series. Strategic Link: Connect — Forge collaborations with people of different cultures. Strategic Link: Inspire — Highlight the interconnectedness of plants and people; create installations and events to connect to diverse audiences

American literature scholar kicks off Botanic Gardens’ lecture series Aug. 29 Cornell Chronicle—August 17, 2018 Christopher Dunn talks about the Harder Lecture and its role in connecting literature and nature in this preview of the Fall Lecture Series. This article resulted from ongoing collaboration with University Communications. Strategic Link: Connect — Strengthen and expand our connections to Cornell

‘Collaboratory’ shares ideas on food, healing, justice Cornell Chronicle—June 15, 2018 Emily Detrick, horticulturist, represented Cornell Botanic Gardens at the inaugural meeting of the Ecological Learning Collaboratory. Strategic Link: Connect — Strengthen and expand our connections to Cornell

Cornell plans response against emerald ash borer Cornell Chronicle—May 31, 2018 This article highlights an educational collaboration between Cornell Botanic Gardens and the College of Architecture Art and Planning’s Professor Greg Page. It resulted from outreach to our partners in University Communications.

Botanic Gardens staffer connects people and plants Cornell Chronicle—October 4, 2018 This article highlights staff expertise at Cornell Botanic Gardens. Emily Detrick, horticulturist, describes how her work connects plants and people. “As gardeners, we have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world,” she said.

To dye for: Exhibit showcases naturally tinted textiles Cornell Chronicle—February 12, 2018 “Quiet Labor,” on exhibit in the Nevin Welcome Center, features naturally dyed textiles, garments and artwork by students and local artists who contribute to the Cornell Natural Dye Studio.

Christopher Dunn to chair new national conservation group Cornell Chronicle—January 16, 2018 Christopher Dunn, executive director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, is the inaugural chair of the new U.S. National Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Ithaca Week--October 21, 2019 The Cornell Botanic Garden exhibit "Ashe Trees: A Story of Relationships, Loss, and Hope" delves into the effects of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer in North America.