SEASON’S GREETINGS and a brief look back at 2015

Photo of year end card collage.

Click photo for a LARGER VIEW.

Posted December 16, 2015

KEY ORDER: Top to bottom (first column); top to bottom (second column); top to bottom (third column).

(1) A wide variety of campus and community supporters came together to officially dedicate the new Arboretum GATEway Garden at our east end;

(2) we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our Arboretum All-Star plants and programs at our plant sales;

(3) Arboretum and Public Garden staff, volunteers, students and Animal Science academic partners commemorated the official opening of the Animal Science GATEway Garden;

(4) staff mentors teamed with student interns to complete a regionally and environmentally-significant green roof project;

(5) our team’s water conservation planning and implementation efforts led to a significant decrease in our campus landscape irrigation water use;

(6) we improved the health of our trees by employing targeted irrigation methods like slow-release watering bags;

(7) in addition to inspiring our communities about the joys of nature, our environmental leadership interns — the Arboretum Ambassadors — received “Best Department Float” in this year’s annual Picnic Day parade;

(8) in a gathering led by Student Coordinator Naftali Moed, Learning by Leading students met each other and supporters of the program;

(9) student leaders provided multiple environmental education resources to regional schools; and

(10) as always, we are grateful for the contributions of the 160+ weekly community volunteers who made a difference in nearly every aspect of the Arboretum and Public Garden, from cataloging plant collections to enhancing the gardens to growing plants for the teaching nursery.

Learning by Leading: Inspiring students to improve our campus and community environment

Photo of Learning by Leading students educating a team of volunteers in proper planting techniques.

Sustainable Horticulture Student Coordinators Nguyen Nguyen and Kathy Geurtze teach a group of volunteers in proper planting techniques. This team helped landscape a new pollinator display garden in the west end of the Arboretum.

Updated December 17, 2015

What many people do not realize is how critical student leaders have always been to the survival and success of the Arboretum and Public Garden. From the time UC Davis students helped plant the first redwoods in the Arboretum in the 1930s, they have always been an essential part of our team. Student employees and interns are involved in project-based, leadership positions throughout our organization. Whether you attend a plant sale, a family education program, or are simply enjoying a walk through the plant collections, you have likely interacted with our invaluable interns and student employees. This year, we are working with 63 students in environmental education, sustainable horticulture and naturalized land management who are all part of a program we call “Learning by Leading.”

As we align the resources necessary to continue growing this program, we thought it would be helpful to pause and look back to share the history of this effort, acknowledge the staff and donors who have helped to shape the program, and to thank the hundreds of student alumni for their important contributions.

In 2005, after an extensive public outreach process, we launched the UC Davis GATEways Project (Gardens, Arts and The Environment) – a framework for engaging our students and community with the physical campus and creating lifelong learners connected with the academic mission of  UC Davis. This unique project allowed us to formalize the process by which students can use the campus landscape as a laboratory for their own academic and professional growth and, in the process, create spaces, programs, and exhibits that engage the campus community and broader public in the innovative work going on every day at UC Davis.

In 2007, to support this framework, three students leaders created our first formal, year-long student internship program — the Arboretum Ambassadors — thanks to a prestigious scholarship from the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation and AmeriCorp. Today this innovative leadership team, now led by Academic Coordinator Elaine Fingerett, inspires hundreds of children and families each year through creative environmental education events. For the past eight years, the Arboretum Ambassador Program has served as a pilot, proof-of-concept, and foundation for our larger Learning by Leading Program. It has garnered support from our members as well as individual donors like Bret Hewitt and Deb Pinkerton via the Pinkerton Prize for outstanding student leadership in environmental education, and now is gaining attention from foundations.

In 2012, with support from the Excelerate Foundation, we began to apply the best practices from the Ambassador’s program structure to other internship teams in sustainable horticulture and naturalized land management. We examined how to best support student-led projects, maximize peer-to-peer teaching, and provide authentic, real-world training in project management and 21st century leadership skills. Each program now has a staff mentor, two paid co-coordinators, and a team of 4-12 interns who work together over the course of the academic year to solve real-world challenges across the campus. Students who commit for multiple years can grow in their leadership capacity over time and make lasting impacts in areas such as water conservation, food security, environmental education, and habitat restoration.

Now, with up to seven student teams learning in the Arboretum and Public Garden each week, our community and region benefits from the positive impacts of working with students as true partners and leaders. Individual donors and businesses are sponsoring the Learning by Leading Program because they see the impacts it has on environmental issues and on the students themselves.

The Learning by Leading Program already has a network of over 550 alumni, many of whom have gone on to leadership positions in sustainable design, nursery management, outdoor education, conservation science, research, and horticulture in California and throughout the United States. As we reflect on the history of this important program and imagine its future, we want to thank these inspiring young leaders not only for their contributions to our local ecosystems and outreach efforts, but also to the environmental field at large. Their skills and passion to tackle the environmental challenges that face us all will help countless communities and landscapes thrive now and in the future.

If you are interested in supporting this program, we hope you’ll consider a gift to our Annual Appeal. This year the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden are raising funds to further support the Environmental Education strand of Learning by Leading. LEARN MORE.

donate now button


Friends support group seeks to raise funds for student-led, educational programming

Photo of UC Davis student engaging with members of the public as part of a free program to educate participants about acorns and other Native American uses of California plants.

Students in the environmental education strand of the Arboretum and Public Garden’s Learning by Leading Program create events designed to engage all ages. Here adults and children learn about acorns and other Native American uses of California plants.

Updated December 17, 2015

THE FRIENDS OF THE UC DAVIS ARBORETUM AND PUBLIC GARDEN SUPPORT GROUP is an incredible partner in growing the Arboretum and Public Garden. In addition to providing volunteer service and hosting the plant sales, the Friends group also raises funds from the community to invest in the Arboretum and Public Garden’s programs, gardens and people.

This year, the Friends’ annual appeal is focused on raising $30,000 from individual members and donors to support the Environmental Education strand of the Learning by Leading Program.

The Environmental Education strand involves teams of UC Davis students designing and offering educational programs for the public. It’s a wonderful win-win as the UC Davis students, mentored by Arboretum and Public Garden staff members, gain leadership experience and skills while families from the region have free access to high-quality, student-led programs in the Arboretum and Public Garden.

Each strand of the Learning by Leading Program requires external investment to support the mentoring, student development activities and supplies. Corporations and foundations have committed funds to enhance other aspects of Learning by Leading; the Friends are focused on supporting the Environmental Education strand to reflect the group’s passion for community engagement and outreach.

To support the Friends annual appeal and the Learning by Leading program, please GO ONLINE TO MAKE A DONATION. If you’ve already made a gift to the Friends annual appeal this year, thank you!

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program_booklet_cover thumbnailConnect, Create, Inspire!
Download our 2015 Annual Appeal brochure

Associate director of UC Davis Grounds and Landscape Services honored with award

Posted December 9, 2015

Photo of Cary Avery withwith PGMS past president John Burns.Cary Avery, associate director of grounds and landscape services for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden was honored this past October by the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) with their President’s Award.

This honor is given to a member or members who have shown outstanding service and contributions to the Society. PGMS 2014-15 President John Burns recognized Cary’s hard work planning and hosting the School of Grounds Management and Summer Conference that took place this past August on the UC Davis campus (learn more) .

With a focus on water conservation for landscapes and sports fields, Cary and his team provided attendees with top notch education sessions and exclusive behind the scenes tours. Cary was also commended for his dedication to the Society, particularly in regards to the Society’s Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation program (learn more).

Congratulations Cary! If you weren’t so modest I would have posted this sooner!

Learn more:

Conference features campus water conservation expertise
4-out-of-4 star accreditation awarded to UC Davis landscape management operations



TUESDAY, NOV. 24 from 4-8 p.m.:
Rescue dog demonstration in Arboretum

Image of signage that will be placed throughout the UC Davis Arboretum notifying visitors of the rescue dog training.

These signs will be placed in the Arboretum to alert our guests of the upcoming rescue dog training.

The California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) and the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Club in conjunction with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden will be hosting a demonstration between 4 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24.

During this time, dogs will be searching for “missing persons.” Some of the search dogs will be off lead in order to perform their jobs. CARDA dogs are highly-trained, friendly working dogs. They will all be easily identifiable by a working vest, bell, and light.


During this evening event, if you are walking through the search area, you may have a dog mistake you for our hidden person. If this happens, the dog will run up to you and then return to its handler to alert, and bring its handler back to find you. The dogs our friendly, but if you don’t enjoy canine attention, please avoid the west side of the Arboretum during the above-referenced hours.

While our dogs are trained to ignore other dogs in their search areas, there is a chance that they will interact with your dog. We would highly encourage individuals to walk their dogs in another area for this evening, especially if your dog is uncomfortable with unfamiliar dogs.

Please obey the leash law for the safety of these working dogs so that they may continue to provide this valuable service to our community.

Native American culture the focus of upcoming “Makerspace” program

Photo of children grinding acorns in the UC Davis Arboretum's redwood grove.

Sunday, November 22, 2015 from 1-3 p.m. at the UC Davis Arboretum’s Wyatt Deck, students from the Arboretum’s “Learning by Leading” internship program have put together a very special opportunity for participants of all ages to learn more about plants and Native American culture.

Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the historical significance of dreamcatchers and drums
    and create them;
  • Grind acorns and learn about their many uses in Native American culture;
  • Learn about other edibles and plant one into an up-cycled water bottle planter; and,
  • Play Native American games

This event is FREE and great for all ages!

About the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s Learning by Leading program:
Because we believe in the fundamental premise that students learn best by leading we offer the campus landscape as a living laboratory where students can develop critical skills in sustainable horticulture, ecological restoration, and environmental education.

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