Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is pleased to introduce Peter Couchman as their new executive director. Following an extensive search that considered many qualified and impressive candidates, Peter began leading the Preserve on Monday, June 29.
Prior to joining the Preserve, Peter served as the first executive director of High Glen Gardens in Frederick, MD, for seven years, following two years as its head gardener. The 64-acre private estate is in the process of being transitioned to a public garden. Besides managing High Glen’s 10 acres of formal gardens, he oversaw the restoration of a large wetland and upland meadow, as well as a woodland reforestation project.
A proven leader and fundraiser for dynamic organizations in transition, Peter also embraces the Preserve’s mission regarding the importance of native plants. “I’m thrilled to be able to combine my organizational leadership with my passion for public horticulture, conservation and ecology at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve,” says Peter. “I look forward to stewarding its accredited native plant collection as a national resource for education and ecological preservation.
“The Preserve’s mission truly speaks to me—beginning with the importance of native plants, leading to the significance of plant and animal communities, and then expanding to our human relationship with our environment and the effects of human activity on our shared planet.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has figuratively changed the landscape for all of us, Peter notes that nonprofits are particularly challenged. “So, we really need to be strategic about the next steps we take,” he says. “I’m excited to work with this talented family of staff and volunteers and to develop new and lasting relationships with our visitors, partners, donors and the local community to move the Preserve forward and meet that challenge.”
That includes strengthening the Preserve’s ties to other local nonprofits. “I want to look very closely at forming partnerships that will not only benefit the Preserve but other organizations in the community as well. The COVID-19 pandemic will show us that we are all stronger when we work together.”
While still a teenager, Peter began a career as a professional opera singer. Eventually, the baritone made solo appearances at New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Ever since he grew vegetables and flowers with his parents and sister at their Gettysburg home, however, Peter has had a fervor for horticulture. While singing, he simultaneously earned bachelor’s degrees in music at the New England Conservatory of Music and in biopsychology at Tufts University. He also earned a master’s of music degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Yet he felt unfulfilled. “I was good at opera, but I eventually realized I just wasn’t passionate about it,” he explains. “When I asked myself, ‘What am I passionate about?,’ I kept coming back to plants and the environment.” So, he launched his current career by earning a diploma from the School of Professional Horticulture of the New York Botanical Garden in New York City.
He and his husband, Phillip Barton, a psychotherapist, are in the process of moving to the area.
Welcome Peter to the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve!