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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: EDUCATION AND VISITOR SERVICES AT THE U.S. NATIONAL ARBORETUM
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To provide a center for education, orientation, information, and interpretation on the research activities, natural areas, and living displays of the National Arboretum for the benefit of the people of the United States.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
To provide formal and informal educational programming through exhibits, signs, publications, web pages, lectures, workshops, and tours; to orient visitors; to convey USNA accomplishments through media outlets; to coordinate public functions; to maintain a mission-related library; and to coordinate volunteer and internship programs.


3.Progress Report
The unit works to transfer the research findings of the arboretum’s scientists and horticulturists to a broad audience of local, regional, national, and international groups, including professionals and the general public, through various media, including a wide range of educational programs (symposia, workshops, classes, demonstrations, etc.), tours, exhibits, web pages, a horticultural library, and interpretive products (brochures, signs, recorded tours, etc.). This year, the unit contributed editing, design and fabrication oversight for two temporary exhibits, one on the history of Fern Valley and one on the arboretum’s definition of an herb. We partnered with the Potomac Bonsai Association to hold a weekend-long bonsai festival, which featured a nationally recognized bonsai artist. Media contacts led to FOX 5 reporting live during the annual orchid show and the simultaneous Autumn Arts of Nature exhibit and numerous mentions of programs and events through radio, newspaper, and online media.

The unit also assumes primary responsibility for the services extended to the half-million visitors to the institution’s 446-acre site in northeast Washington, D.C.; these include daily staffing of an information desk, an information resource center staffed by a librarian, and assistance in reserving indoor and outdoor spaces at the arboretum’s D.C. campus. The unit supports the work of the research and gardens units by coordinating a volunteer program (153 regular in addition to one-day volunteers contributed approximately 14,000 hours) and an internship program (13 part-time and full-time positions) and by providing image collection documentation, storage, and retrieval. New image management software allows on-line searches that will also be available on-line through the arboretum’s web site.


4.Accomplishments
1. Energy-Saving Solar Power. The arboretum seeks ways in which to both reduce its use of energy and to teach others how to add sustainable practices to their home and landscape. As part of an agreement with The Research Foundation of State University of New York (RFSUNY) to collaborate on alternative energy projects, the unit partnered with RFSUNY’s Alfred State College to hold a week-long workshop that taught landscape and building professionals as well as homeowners how to design and install a solar-powered electrical system for a small home. The workshop resulted in the installation of such a system on the roof of the gift shop building, Arbor House. Any excess power will feed into the city’s electrical system and help reduce the arboretum’s electrical bill.

2. Mentoring Future Horticulturists and Scientists. The arboretum strives to be a leading institution of educational opportunities for the next generation of botanical garden and horticulture research professionals. In 2010, the arboretum hosted fourteen internships, six in the research unit, seven in the gardens unit, and one in the education unit. Interns worked alongside staff in the gardens, labs, greenhouses, and offices and complete projects that help staff accomplish goals. Field trips to area gardens, arboreta, nurseries, greenhouses, plant production facilities, and ARS-BARC expose the interns to other fields within horticulture and plant science. Many arboretum interns begin or continue careers in horticulture and scientific research.


Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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