2024 Plant Collections Symposium

Purposeful Plant Collections in a Changing World

From innovations in plant records technology and mapping to shifts in our natural and social environments, the world around us is changing more rapidly than ever before. How are we moving the world of plant collections at public gardens into the future? Join us for this Symposium as we learn about implementing new technologies in plant records and adapting our objectives and methods in collections development and curation. How are you creating collections with a purpose?

Dates: October 8 & 9, 2024
Location: Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum
Chicago, IL
Aloft Chicago O’Hare, $219/nt

  • January 2, 2024: Submissions open
  • February 16, 2024: Proposals due
  • April 2024: Notification of acceptance
  • July 2024: Registration opens

Individuals who are public horticulture professionals, volunteers, or trustees with current Association membership are eligible to present and submit the sessions as the Session Lead Presenter.

Anyone with an interest in public horticulture from disciplines or organizations outside public horticulture are strongly encouraged to join us as presenters. However, commercial service providers and non-members may not serve as a Session Lead Presenter for sessions but are encouraged to collaborate with others to submit session ideas and participate as presenters.

Interested in becoming a member? Email info@publicgardens.org for details.

Session Lead Presenter Expectations

  • Coordinate session logistical details
  • Organize session focus, format, and presenters
  • Develop session content
  • Specify session room/site setup and audiovisual needs

Symposium Planning Committee/Association will:

  • Notify all presenters when a session is accepted
  • Provide guidance, as needed, to session presenters
  • Work to resolve specified room/site setup and audiovisual needs

For any questions, please contact Briana Berkowitz, Professional Development Coordinator, at bberkowitz@publicgardens.org

The Plant Collections Symposium will feature a variety of sponsorship and promotional opportunities to choose from. Corporate members interested in sponsored workshop or speaking opportunities should contact Sara Wilson Meyer at swmeyer@publicgardens.org.

Review the following format descriptions in order to determine which best fits your proposed session.

Review the following format descriptions in order to determine which best fits your proposed session.

15 Minute Presentation: Brief presentations or discussions that are structured and focused on a single topic are highly encouraged, with one speaker being recommended for the presentation. The time allocated for the presentation includes Q&A. Your session may be slotted into a session block along with presentations with similar themes.

30 Minute Presentation: Presentations or discussions that are structured and focused on a single topic are highly encouraged, with one to two speakers being recommended for the presentation. The time allocated for the presentation includes Q&A.

60 minute Presentation: Presentations or panel discussions that are structured and focused on a broader topic or idea are highly encouraged, with two or more speakers being recommended for the presentation. If you want to curate a panel and need help finding panelists, please submit your idea and the Planning Committee can assist. The time allocated for the presentation includes Q&A.

The following is a list of possible topics. This list is in no way exhaustive and is intended to inspire and guide you as you develop session submissions.


  • Innovative technologies and methods in collections documentation, inventorying, and mapping
  • Collections planning and development with a purpose: Ensuring a resilient future in our changing climate
  • Nomenclature and Taxonomy: What’s in a name, why are they always changing, and how to make it approachable
  • Capturing information before it’s lost: Staff succession planning, knowledge transfer and process documentation
  • Building partnerships and collaborations across organizations
  • Wild Collecting: Ethics, techniques, verification, and importance for protecting against extinctions
  • Indigenous knowledge and ethnobotanical collections
  • Collections Repatriations: An emerging practice

Sessions Should:

  • Offer practical takeaways, lessons, and advice for participants
  • Offer an inside perspective on the plant collections field in public gardens
  • Engage with the audience and allow time for discussion (if appropriate)

Session Selection Criteria:

  • Intent and learning outcomes for attendees are focused, well presented, and thoughtfully articulated
  • Topic and presenters (when applicable) represent a wide range of perspectives, regions, and garden sizes/budgets/missions
  • Presentation appeals to all levels of experience
  • Session is pragmatic and allows participants to learn from one another in addition to the speaker(s)

Association Staff and Planning Committee Members reserve the right to edit the title and description.

  • Lead Presenter’s Information
    • Name
    • Email
    • Phone Number
    • Job Title
    • Organization/Affiliation
    • Are you a member of APGA?
  • Co-Presenter information
  • Presentation Format (35-, 75- Session or Workshop)
  • Presentation Focus Area (select multiple from list)
  • Presentation Title: Titles should be concise and to the point. Your title should accurately reflect the content of your session.
  • Presentation Description: Create an engaging description that will attract attendees and be used for selection and marketing purposes. (250 word max)
  • Learning Outcomes: Explain what action/outcomes you want your participants to take as a result of your presentation/workshop. (50 word max)

By submitting a session proposal, you agree to the following on behalf of all those listed in your session:

  1. All speakers must register for the symposium or may choose to present and attend only their session. Registration discounts or waivers are not available for speakers. (Note that we invite applications in May for financial assistance through our Garden Scholars program)
  2. Any expenses incurred to participate in this conference are the speakers’ responsibility and will not be reimbursed by the Association. This also applies to printed materials as Association Staff will not have the ability to print materials for attendees and speakers while onsite.
  3. No substantive changes in content or presenters are made without prior written approval from Association Staff or Symposium Planning Committee.
  4. The Association will be notified immediately if an emergency would prevent this session from being presented at the Symposium. In the event an originally listed presenter is unable to attend, the session coordinator will provide a substitute presenter of equal expertise for approval by the Association.
  5. I warrant and represent that this session/workshop is my own original work, factually accurate, conforms to IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) principles, and contains nothing libelous or otherwise unlawful. I have the authority to present the content in my presentation or I have obtained all necessary permissions or licenses from any persons or organizations whose material is included or used in my presentation.
  6. During my presentation I will not engage in any type of promotional marketing or selling of any product or service whose material is included or used in my presentation.