GLENCOE, Ill. (May 2, 2011) — Kris Jarantoski, executive vice president and director of the Chicago Botanic Garden has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from the Garden Club of America. The Garden Club of America presented him with the award for outstanding service in the field of horticulture at its annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 30, 2011.
Jarantoski joined the Chicago Botanic Garden in 1977 as an assistant horticulturist, serving as one of just a handful of staff on an almost-barren, degraded 385-acre campus. Since then, the Chicago Botanic Garden has been transformed into one of the most beautiful and visited gardens in the world. The Garden set an all-time attendance record in 2010 with 904,864 visitors.
Jarantoski has worked with several of the world's preeminent landscape architects, including Dan Kiley, John Brookes, Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, and Michael Van Valkenburgh to create the Garden's 24 distinct display gardens and four natural areas. He also created the Garden's intern program and was active in judging gardens of the Chicago Housing Authority, while building staff and organizational structures to support the dramatic expansion of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
"It is a privilege to be given this award from the Garden Club of America. Many of the people whose work I have admired have been previous recipients and I am honored to be recognized as they have been," Jarantoski said.
He has generously volunteered his time with the American Public Gardens Association in various roles including serving as a member of the board of directors. He has also volunteered with local Garden Club of America chapters and the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. Jarantoski has traveled extensively throughout the world, visiting botanic gardens and purchasing plants for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, England, Japan, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
His first assignment at the Chicago Botanic Garden was supervising plant records and labeling; overseeing the Garden's nursery and managing the original home demonstration garden, now the Pullman Plant Evaluation Garden. Within a year, he was promoted to horticulturist and was responsible for hiring and training staff during the creation of several major display gardens, including the Malott Japanese, bulb, home demonstration, and aquatic display gardens. Today, Jarantoski and his team of horticulturists nurture and care for 24 distinct display gardens at the Glencoe location.
Jarantoski's dedication to perfection earned the Chicago Botanic Garden the 2006 APGA/Horticulture Magazine Award for Garden Excellence for the highest standards of horticultural practices. His outstanding leadership and significant contributions to horticulture were further recognized in 2007 when he received the Professional Award from the American Horticultural Society.
"Kris has left an indelible mark on our Garden and on the role botanic gardens play in the lives of people. Through his numerous contributions, the Garden has grown into a preeminent botanic wonder, and an iconic example of public spaces," said Sophia Siskel, president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Kris Jarantoski was nominated for this award by Lake Forest Garden Club, Lake Forest, IL — a member of The Garden Club of America, and the nomination was seconded by the Garden Club of Winnetka and the Garden Guild of Winnetka.
Additional information about Kris Jarantoski receiving this medal can be found at www.gcamerica.org. Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is free. Select event fees apply. Parking is $20 per car; free for Garden members. For information about Garden programs and events, call (847) 835-5440, or visit www.chicagobotanic.org.
Editors, please note: The Chicago Botanic Garden's newsroom is online at www.chicagobotanic.org/pr. For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is free. Select event fees apply. Parking is $20 per car; free for Garden members. For information about Garden programs and events, call (847) 835-5440, or visit www.chicagobotanic.org.
Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs:
The Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the treasures of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, is a 385-acre living plant museum featuring 24 distinct display gardens and four natural areas. With events, programs and activities for all ages, the Garden is open every day of the year. Admission is free; select event fees apply. Parking is $20 per car; free for Garden members. The Garden is located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Ill. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org, or call (847) 835-5440 for seasonal hours, images of the Garden and commuter transportation information.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society. It opened to the public in 1972 and is home to the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, offering a broad array of adult classes in plant science, landscape design and gardening arts. Through the Division of Plant Science and Conservation, Garden scientists work on plant conservation, research and environmental initiatives that have global impact. The Center for Teaching and Learning brings the wonder of nature and plants to children, teens and teachers. The Garden's Horticultural Therapy and Community Gardening programs provide nationally recognized community outreach and service programs. A program of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Windy City Harvest is an organic vegetable and plant production enterprise that provides instruction in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture to residents of Chicago’s North Lawndale and West Side neighborhoods.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). The Chicago Botanic Garden is also host to Botanic Gardens Conservation International-U.S., and a member of the Center for Plant Conservation. In 2006, the Chicago Botanic Garden received the Award for Garden Excellence, given yearly by the APGA and Horticulture magazine to a public garden that exemplifies the highest standards of horticultural practices and has shown a commitment to supporting and demonstrating best gardening practices.