Nature Rx – (Re)Connecting Humans with their Native Habitats
Description: Researchers have repeatedly shown that people spend more time indoors looking at screens than outside enjoying nature and our health is suffering as a result. Public gardens are in a unique position to provide a remedy for this imbalance, but are we brave enough to create programs that address this need? Hear from Cornell University Associate Professor Donald A. Rakow on how they are answering that question with a series of Rx-like programs, and their attempts to encourage participants to push competing priorities aside and embrace the simple enjoyment of being outdoors.


Don Rakow, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Donald A. Rakow, PhD, serves as the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, as well as Director of the Cornell Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership. Actively involved in horticultural associations and education initiatives at many levels, Rakow is a frequent speaker at conferences and has been honored with the APGA Service Award, for his service on American Public Gardens Association's board of directors and many of its committees.

Finding Balance Across Departments at Multi-Attraction Gardens

Description: Many of our institutions are much more than gardens: historic estates, zoos, university campuses, event spaces, and sculpture parks. Within any organization, having a diverse set of attractions can potentially lead to confusion about mission or become a point of conflict as departments compete for resources. However, when cooperation is cultivated, the results can strengthen the impact of the organization's mission and improve constituents’ experiences. Stretching internal collaborations across departments and attractions can be a challenge that requires endurance and creativity, but finding and maintaining the working balance is worth the effort. In this session, we will examine cross attraction relationships within gardens, including successes and ongoing challenges.

Joe Rothleutner, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois;

John Berryhill, Botanic Garden at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts


Morton Arboretum: Starting a Diversity and Inclusion Council

Description: The Morton Arboretum formed its first Diversity and Inclusion Council in 2016 following several years of planning and staff training. Working with an experienced consultant, we created a D&I strategy, recruited Council members, and began the process of making the Arboretum a more welcoming and inclusive place. This presentation will explore the steps the Arboretum’s took to begin this journey and offer some insights on the experience of crafting a D&I initiative from scratch at a large organization.


Anna Cosner, Director of Retail and Events at The Morton Arboretum

Anna Cosner oversees the Special Events, Facility Rental, Food Service, and Retail departments at The Morton Arboretum and has also chaired the Arboretum’s Diversity and Inclusion Council since its inception in 2016. The D&I Council is composed of interested staff from all departments who work together to enact the Arboretum’s D&I strategy and create a more welcoming and inclusive space for visitors, staff, and volunteers.


The Me, Me, Me Generation: Understanding Millennials from a Millennial Perspective

Description: Description: Connecting with the future generation of gardeners and public garden visitors is a major strategic initiative throughout the industry, but there is a lack of understanding in how to communicate to and with Generation Y, also known as the Millennials. What excites, interests and inspires them? What attracts their attention versus turns them away? What is important in their everyday life? Understanding the motivation behind Millennial purchasing decisions and overall decision making helps craft smart marketing and communications campaigns to attract a younger demographic, while also not alienating your core visitor and sponsor base. Attracting visitors in their 20s and early 30s not only is necessary for the future of your attendance numbers but lays the foundation for a donor collective that will support your bottom line. This presentation looks at how to communicate with the Millennial generation through research and data on Millennials' relationship with the home and garden industry.

Ryan McEnaney of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

A native of Woodbury, Minnesota, Ryan McEnaney has a diverse background within the communications, entertainment, beauty and horticulture industries. While working towards a degree in Communications Studies from the University of St. Thomas, McEnaney began his career working at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities before transitioning to internships in Los Angeles. Following graduation, he moved permanently to continue his work in entertainment public relations, representing clients such as Tom Ford, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Ridley Scott, Ryan Murphy, Matthew Broderick and the USA Network. During this time, he worked on international campaigns for Glee, Sherlock Holmes, Sex and the City, Robin Hood and more.

Following his work as a celebrity publicist, McEnaney transitioned into the fashion and beauty segment of the entertainment industry. In that role, he oversaw public relations and brand relationships for top celebrity hair stylists, makeup artists and more. Upon returning to Minnesota, McEnaney’s public relations clients have included Twin Cities PRIDE, the Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride, the Minnesota AIDS Walk, Minnesota Chorale and more.

McEnaney is a fifth-generation family member at Bailey Nurseries, a 113-year old business headquartered outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. The company has grown to be one of the largest growers of trees and shrubs in the United States, and also owns some of the largest consumer brands in the home garden industry: Endless Summer® Hydrangeas, First Editions® Plants and Easy Elegance® Roses. McEnaney currently handles public relations and social media for the brands, and has recently been named their national consumer spokesperson.