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Arboretum Awards Medal to Lady Bird Johnson

By Alfredo Flores
June 11, 2002

WASHINGTON, June 11--Former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and her Committee for a More Beautiful Capital have won the U.S. National Arboretum's first Gold Medal Award for their efforts to enhance the beauty of the nation's capital with trees, flowers and other ornamental plantings. The U.S. National Arboretum is in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Johnson and her committee will receive the award in October as part of the arboretum's year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary. 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 initiated many environmental improvements and beautification efforts nationally, not only when she was First Lady, but throughout much of her life," said Arboretum Director Thomas Elias. "Her efforts to beautify the environment with plants epitomize the arboretum's mission, which is to conduct research, provide education, and conserve and display trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants to enhance the environment."

Mrs. Johnson and the surviving members of the committee will be presented with the award at a formal dinner at the arboretum on Oct. 3. The award will consist of an original medal, provided by the Friends of the National Arboretum and designed by Cissel Gott Collins of the Washington-based Gott Group design firm, and an official certificate of appreciation from the arboretum.

Mrs. Johnson created the committee in 1965, while her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, was president. After leaving the capital, Mrs. Johnson focused her energies on the beautification of 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 attitudes toward native plants.

In attendance at today's announcement was Marlene Richardson, producer of a Public Broadcasting System documentary on Mrs. Johnson's work. Filmed over the past three years, it is called "Lady Bird, Naturally" and will air on PBS stations this month.

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