Johnson Receives First Arboretum Gold Medal Award
By Alfredo Flores
October 3, 2002
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3--Former
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and her Committee for a More Beautiful Capital
have been selected as the first recipients of the
U.S. National Arboretum's Gold Medal
Award. Mrs. Johnson and the committee are being recognized today for their
sustained contributions in beautifying Washington, DC, and other areas of the
country with trees, flowers and other ornamental plantings.
Today's recognition is part of a series of ongoing events this year to
celebrate the 75thanniversary of the arboretum, in Washington, DC. The
arboretum is operated by the Agricultural
Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Lady Bird Johnson has dedicated so much time and energy throughout her
life to beautifying America," Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said.
"To her credit, she has sustained this effort and built upon it, providing
inspiration and encouraging community involvement throughout the country."
The Gold Medal Award is given annually to recognize the person or group that
best epitomizes the mission of the arboretum: to conduct research, provide
education, and conserve and display plants to enhance the environment. The
award includes a certificate of appreciation and an original medal designed by
Cissel Gott Collins of the Washington-based Gott Group, and provided by the
Friends of the National Arboretum.
Established in 1965, the Committee for a More Beautiful Capital was a
30-member group of friends and politicians serving the Lyndon Baines Johnson
administration. Their efforts in planting flowers, shrubs and trees around the
capital city started a nationwide beautification movement, with many states
also setting up similar programs.
Mrs. Johnson also has focused her energies on beautifying her native Texas,
working with the Texas Highway
Department to preserve the natural beauty of wildflowers along interstates
and freeways. In 1982, she founded the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to
continue the mission of changing public attitudes toward native plants.
Veneman helped kick off the arboretum's 75th anniversary year in March,
during the planting of a Sun Valley red maple on the grounds of the U.S.
Capitol. Other activities this year at the arboretum included an international
bonsai symposium in May, and an exhibition of rare Victoria water lilies. The
446-acre arboretum in northeast Washington was established by an act of
Congress in 1927 to conduct research, provide education and conserve and
display trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants to enhance the environment.