Sarasota FLA.-July 18, 2019: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the recipient of the prestigious Program Excellence Award given by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) for a four-year partnership entitled “Air Plants and Other Epiphytes of Belize: A Collaborative Project Between Two Botanical Gardens and a University.” Jeannie Perales, VP for Exhibitions, Leaning & Engagement accepted the award at the APGA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. on June 18, 2019 on behalf of Selby Gardens.
The Program Excellence Award is presented to an APGA member who has shown an innovative spirit in the development of an original program and has pioneered in disciplines that are important to horticultural institutions, including education, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension, or administration.
Selby Gardens was presented with this honor for its successful partnership with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Botanical Garden, which provided significant funding and logistical support, and the University of Belize-Environmental Research Institute. The main goal of the project was to promote in Belize the study, conservation and display of epiphytes, an area in which Selby Gardens specializes.
“At the start of the project, we wanted to improve the public’s perception and knowledge of epiphytes, learn about the diversity of epiphytic plants in Belize, and provide staff development opportunities. The Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize was later brought in to provide an opportunity for student and academic participation,” explains Bruce Holst, Vice President for Botany.
Through work with these botanical organizations in Belize, about 860 accessions, or plant materials, were collected for Selby Gardens and Caves Branch living collections. More than 2,000 mounted specimens were added to Herbarium collections at both Selby Gardens and Belize National Herbarium. The preservation of the plants by mounting and accession will be an asset for long-term plant research and conservation for both Botanical Gardens.
“The partnership with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Botanical Garden and the University of Belize-Environmental Research Institute was the most integrated multi-year collections-based project undertaken at the Gardens,” said Holst. Ninety percent of the funds, outside of salaries, were provided by donors and the benefits to the institutions are extraordinary. While Selby Gardens’ Botany team took the lead, volunteers and various departments contributed significantly to the project including obtaining collections for displays and herbarium, publishing education guides, and conducting botanical research.
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