Message From the Director – Fall 2021

Patrick Bohlen, Director UCF Arboretum & Landscape and Natural Resources

We are excited to reconnect with our friends and supporters through this fall 2021 edition of the UCF Arboretum newsletter.  We were disappointed that we were not able to put out a summer newsletter this year, mostly due to the increased demands of our burgeoning program, and our preparations for the first face-to-face semester since spring 2020.  We are back on track to deliver our newsletter three times per year—spring, summer, and fall, because, as you know, there is not much of a winter in central Florida!

The return of students this fall has been a welcome change from the relative quite of previous semesters when students were taking most of their classes online, and many faculty and staff were working remotely due to the COVID pandemic.  One of the truly rewarding aspects of UCF is the tremendous energy and enthusiasm that comes from our large, diverse student body.  As a largely student-focused and student-serving organization, the Arboretum thrives on the talent and energy that our student leaders, interns, and volunteers bring to our program.  Planning for their return, and organizing our first full semester of events and volunteering since spring of 2020, occupied much of time this summer.

The Arboretum is entering its third full year of implementing our transformative Learning by Leading™ program (LxL), which we first introduced from UC Davis in fall of 2019, and which continues to fuel our program growth and success.  Our program leaders, Jennifer Elliott, Kelsie Johnson and myself, were delighted to be able to catch up with the creators of the the LxL program, Kathleen Socolofsky and Carmia Feldman, who are, respectively, the director and assistant director of the UCF Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.  One of their goals has been to expand their successful leadership training program to other universities through a community of practice, and they were thrilled to learn about how successful we have been in implementing the LxL program here at UCF over the past two years.

At the center of the LxL program are our student leaders, who help us build and expand our various program areas.  Success builds upon success with each passing semester, as new incoming co-coordinators take advantage of lessons learned and improvements implemented by previous student leaders. This semester, we have continued our highly successful plant sales, led in part by one of our Greenhouse and Nursery co-coordinators, Max Meader, featured in our student spotlight.  Through their entrepreneurial efforts these students are raising substantial funds through our auxiliary account that now equal or exceed our entire annual operating budget!

We are happy to announce that we have made significant progress on our new nursery, which will greatly expand our plant sales as we target both students and residential customers from the surrounding community. The new Arid and Mediterranean Garden, featured in this newsletter and designed by our Urban Horticulture team, will be a beautiful new landscape feature associated with the entrance to the new nursery.

The nursery in one of many steps we are taking to build our connection with the community beyond the borders of UCF.  This fall, we were happy to host the first of three community events supported by a grant from TD Bank to help increase our community outreach and build stronger ties with residents of the Central Florida community. These efforts will take time, but they are the logical next step to expanding the impact of our program, and we hope that our friends and supporters will join us in this effort.  We hope to see you at our upcoming events, such as the Makers Market on December 3, and wish you all the best for a Happy Holiday season!

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