The American Public Gardens Association announced Sarah Gardner as the recipient of the Association’s first-ever Kittleman Scholarship for Aspiring Public Garden Leaders. This is a new scholarship opportunity for up-and-coming leaders in the field of public gardens and was created to support this development by providing a “roadmap to leadership at all levels.” It was one of the many 2017 member awards given during the Association’s Annual Conference held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada last month.

Sarah has been in the public garden field for ten years, where she has enjoyed the unique chance to be front and center watching a small garden in Dallas, Texas, grow tremendously in terms of exhibits, recognition and mission over nine years. In her time with Texas Discovery Gardens, she has held a diversity of jobs in conjunction with PR/ Marketing. She has coordinated volunteers and managed rentals, as well as adult classes and special events. She has assisted with children’s education, insect care, gardening, pruning, Guest Relations, and membership. She now manages the development side, including the annual gala. Twice, she has stepped in as Interim Director, teaching her invaluable lessons on HR, budgeting, and the difference a box of donuts or breakfast tacos brought to the office can make on employee morale. Prior to Texas Discovery Gardens, she spent a year at Luthy Botanical Garden in Peoria, Illinois, as a volunteer manager and educator, learning so much from the horticulture crew about the basics of gardening.

Sarah loves working in a garden and seeing the impact the organization can make on the lives of the children and adults who come through the doors. Sarah’s background is in journalism; she previously spent her time playing with ocelots in South Texas at a wildlife refuge and as a reporter for the South Padre Island Breeze newspaper before discovering the world of public gardens.

The Association award recipients set a professional precedent for other individuals and organizations to follow. The nomination process begins in the fall and recipients are announced during the Association’s Annual Conference in June. An eight-member committee, whose volunteers serve as leaders in the public garden community, selects the finalists and recipients.

The 2017 American Public Gardens Association’s Annual Conference was held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from  June 19th to the 23rd. The event was being hosted by two Hamilton-area gardens – the Royal Botanical Gardens and Niagara PArks. More than 600 professionals from public gardens across the United States and more than 15 countries worldwide attended the event.

About the American Public Gardens Association

Founded in 1940, the American Public Gardens Association has evolved to be the premiere association for public garden advocacy, education, innovation, and leadership in North America. With over 75 years of commitment to increasing cooperation and awareness among gardens, we have built a membership of nearly 600 institutions located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and 24 other countries. Its members include, but are not limited to, botanic gardens, arboreta, zoos, museums, colleges and universities, display gardens, and research facilities. The American Public Gardens Association is committed to increased awareness and advancement of public gardens as a force for positive change in communities through leadership, advocacy and innovation. Visit for more information.