It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were conducting all of our activities via Zoom, wondering if and when we would be able to safely reopen our doors to the public. But a year later, despite the steep challenges of the pandemic, I am excited to share that Selby Gardens is thriving.
As we determined how to navigate the pandemic, we announced the adoption of Historic Spanish Point as a companion campus. Since adopting the HSP campus on May 1 of last year, we have already seen the power of two campuses working together. Two examples include expanding the existing HSP programs such as Pioneer Boat Building and Florida Archaeology through a grant from the state, and introducing new visitors to HSP through our socially distanced outdoor performing arts series, “Performances at the Point” and “Sunset Music Series.”
We were also encouraged to see many of our Downtown Sarasota campus members visit the new Historic Spanish Point campus. In the years ahead, we look forward to building a sustainable Selby Gardens experience that showcases both locations and that benefits Sarasota residents and visitors from around the world.
Like many organizations, the pandemic inspired us to bolster our online offerings. We launched “Grow Where You’re Planted,” a digital home base for our learning and engagement programs. While Selby Gardens has always offered hands-on classes, tours, and camps for our school-aged residents, many of these were shifted to a virtual format. Attendance for these virtual programs is double that of our traditional in-person programs. We look forward to offering virtual initiatives to supplement our in-person offerings well into the future.
This year marked a significant milestone in our Master Planning process. After three years of community engagement, planning, applications, and compromises, we are thrilled to say the Master Plan to reorganize our 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus is approved. To date, we have raised $35 million of the $42.5 million needed for Phase I and, once the remaining funding is secured, we anticipate breaking ground on this exciting new sustainable future.
This Master Plan is a vital opportunity to realize the full potential of our beloved Downtown Sarasota campus, while also preserving our important history for the generations to come. At the same time, we will be able to add more open space, become an international model for the latest green building technology, safeguard and showcase the world’s best scientifically documented collections of orchids and bromeliads, accommodate our visitor base, and connect the underserved families and children in our region to the wonders of Selby Gardens.
All of this is made possible by the support of each and every member of our Selby Gardens community—our devoted board, our innovative employees, our dedicated volunteers, our engaged members, and our gracious visitors. Thank you for supporting Selby Gardens through the challenges of 2020—we have built a strong foundation for continued success in 2021 because of all of you.
Jennifer O. Rominiecki, President and CEO