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Research Project: Education and Visitor Services at the U.S. National Arboretum

Location: Gardens Unit

2013 Annual Report

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

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 National Arboretum accomplishments through media outlets; to coordinate public functions; to coordinate volunteer and internship programs; and to coordinate preservation of historical records and artifacts.

3. Progress Report:
The Education and Visitor Services 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 (including symposia, workshops, classes, and demonstrations), tours, exhibits, web pages, a horticultural library, and interpretive products (brochures, signs, recorded tours). This year the unit’s 120 educational programs drew over 2200 participants, with thousands more attending the popular annual Potomac Bonsai Festival and Orchid Show. 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., which includes staffing an information desk and coordinating events. The unit supports the work of the research and gardens units by managing a volunteer program (200 regular in addition to one-day volunteers contributed approximately 16,500 hours this year) and an internship program (12 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 through the Arboretum’s web site.

4. Accomplishments