One of the many pleasures of serving the Garden is the opportunity to meet people who are making a difference. I am gratified whenever I learn the Garden is helping them to achieve their goals, and deeply appreciative to discover they are helping the Garden to realize its mission.
One of these special people is Patty Dodson, a longtime member of the Garden and a teacher’s associate for Phyllis McMillan at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka. During the opening of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, Patty recognized the positive impact the new building would have on her students. That very night she asked permission to bring her students and other teachers for a tour. For me, her request was early, exciting proof of a dream come true.
Last October, Patty’s first-grade class became one of the first groups to tour the Plant Science Center. Beforehand, she had prepared and presented curricula on the role of seeds in plant reproduction and conservation. Her students came armed with questions that conservation scientist Pati Vitt, Ph.D., answered in a videotaped session. I am delighted that all young students and their parents are able to watch this session.
This summer, Patty Dodson has graciously offered her home and property in northern Wisconsin to the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Botanic Garden. Nine adult students will be able to enroll in a special conservation service trip. Accompanied by four Garden scientists and assisted by President’s Circle member Elaine Tinberg, the students will get training and hands-on experience in collecting seeds. These seeds will be cleaned in the Plant Science Center and stored in our seed bank. They will be available for research, worldwide conservation projects, and to inspire everyone who visits.
As Patty so ably demonstrates, one person can make a difference! Her commitment enriches the lives of students of all ages, with rewards that will improve our quality of life for generations to come. I share her excitement at being part of a global effort and, on behalf of everyone at the Garden, thank her for everything she does.
On June 5, I encourage you to join us for World Environment Day. Our daylong, Garden-wide celebration will explore what the Garden does, and what each of us can do to help protect plants and the natural world.
I look forward to seeing you at the Garden soon!