Friends of the Arboretum Newsletter – February 2020

Chair’s Corner: FOTA by the Numbers

We don’t often talk about the business side of FOTA, so I thought I’d give you a taste of that this month, as your FOTA Advisory Board just finished our 2020 budget and goals.

We set an ambitious fundraising goal this year of $500,000, and events are a big part of that. It’s not too early to get these major fundraisers on your calendar:

Spring Plant Sale – May 1-3
Even though there’s snow on the ground as I write this, our Plant Sale committee is hard at work finalizing the plant selection and details for this year’s event. Look for new and exciting plant varieties you won’t be able to find at the big box stores! And as a FOTA member, you get the best pick of the plants before the public on Thursday night, April 30, for the FOTA preview and social.

Wine Tastings on the Terrace – monthly April through September
If you’ve never been to one of these, it’s a lovely way to spend a summer evening!

Botanical Brewfest – August 8 (note new date this year!)
Botanical Brewfest is moving to early August as a “summer’s end” event in order to space out our major events. 

Terra Luna – tentatively scheduled for September 17-20
This partnership between the Arboretum and Quixotic is the newest of our fundraisers, and was a big hit the first time around in September 2019. If you didn’t get a chance to come last year, be sure not to miss it this year! You can see pictures from last year’s event by clicking here.

Luminary Walk – November 27-28, December 4-5 and 11-12
Luminary Walk is our largest fundraiser, and it looks like our 2019 event netted $210,000 – a new record. We’re so proud of Irene Parsons and her hard-working team!

Everything FOTA raises through these events goes directly to support the Arboretum. This year, we have committed $177,000 to the City of Overland Park to fund the following:

– Educational programming
– Maintenance of the Train Garden
– New plant collection software
– The Education and Event Coordinator position
– The upcoming “Beyond the Frame” exhibit (see more below)
– Miscellaneous expenses including printing, marketing, and equipment rental

In addition, we are transferring $500,000 to the Growing to Inspire campaign fund as part of FOTA’s $2 million pledge to help build the new Visitor Center.The next time you visit the Arboretum with children, be sure to check out the beautiful new education feature in the visitor center. See more information in the article below. 

While not a FOTA fundraiser, we’re looking forward to theBeyond the Frame” sculptures that will be placed not only at the Arboretum, but also throughout Overland Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Here at the Arboretum, we’re planning a “Picnic on the Promenade” on Sunday, May 31 to highlight the seven Arboretum sculptures which will feature Impressionist paintings from the late 1800s. Watch for more details!
There’s a lot going on with FOTA, and we are so grateful for your support! Memberships account for almost 20% of our fundraising goal, so be sure to renew yours when it’s time and encourage your friends and neighbors to support the Arboretum in this important way. A FOTA membership is also a great gift!

See you at the Arb!
Sonya

The Hudson Grant: Bringing Nature to Kids

In late 2018 Friends of the Arboretum was invited to apply for a grant from the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation. They are a foundation that is centered in North Texas, but also has interest in the Kansas City area. They focus on “children’s issues from birth to 5, with a secondary focus on ages 6-18.” The issue that Friends of the Arboretum wanted to tackle is nature deprivation in children. We all know that being outside is essential to mental health and emotional regulation skills for all people, but especially in children. For more information on this, Richard Louv’s classic, Last Child in the Woods is a great overview. 

We have also learned by surveying our guests and members (Thank You!) that visitors prefer to have enriched experiences at the gardens but also have the flexibility to come and go as they please and not have to adhere to a class schedule. When the grant was awarded, the education committee was asked to take the main task of completing the grant projects. As a group they decided that activities that families can do together on their own schedule would be a great way for visitors to have a great time at the gardens and to learn more about the natural world. Then came the idea to create a display wall with different activity ideas for anyone to come and take part in. It eventually evolved into “Rosie’s Arboretum Adventures”. Rosie is a Raccoon character developed by our own volunteer Andra Chase. In her working life, she was a children’s book illustrator, her work is readily available online. Rosie has been a part of the Arboretum for many years. You may have seen her in our Treemendous Tree Adventure books that the education committee developed for field trips, or our newer additions to our field trip options, Orienteering and Bird Watching. The Education Committee thought she would be the perfect ambassador for our new adventures.

After developing the concept, the Committee went right to work developing the content for the activities and the concepts that they wanted to address. Currently, they are insects, the Herb Garden, the Monet Garden, Margaret’s Pond, Animals and Wolf Creek with more to come. We’d like to invite everyone to use the new activity cards to have their own adventures at the Arboretum. The Committee also added some furniture and expanded the library so that children of all ages can find something interesting to read while they wait for their group or take a rest in between hikes. Treo Marketing from Lee’s Summit was a huge part in making this a success. One of their partners, Emily Crawford was a lead on the project and she worked tirelessly to make sure it worked for us and for the design. She worked with the Education Committee to design the wall graphics, the installation pieces and the activity cards themselves. Without them working as a project manager, we would not have been so successful. 

The Hudson Grant also allowed us to have more classes at the gardens, including Nature Story Time, Family Yoga, Plein Air Painting Classes and Mindfulness Nature Walks. These were all new programs at the Gardens that would have not otherwise been scheduled. The goals for all of the classes was to get outside and have an adventure that you would otherwise not experience and have an experience for all ages. Nature Story Time was held in partnership with Stepping Stones KC. Preschoolers listened to music on a guitar played by the facilitator, made music themselves and listened to books. All of the sessions were based on a theme, such as insects, flowers or animals and more.

Nature Story Time

Family Yoga was hosted by Amanda Gardner, a certified child yoga instructor. Families would come to different places in the garden and learn poses based on a similar theme, such as rooted like a tree, and bloom like a flower. She will be back in 2020 and we are also adding more traditional outdoor yoga sessions for adults. Mindfulness Nature Walks were also new in 2019. Stephanie Novacek was our guide and she is a certified Forest Therapist and a Pediatric Physical Therapist. Families were encouraged to come to the gardens and use all of their senses to reconnect with nature, themselves and each other. All in a device free environment. We are planning to continue all of the partnerships in 2020, look for sessions to be added to the calendar soon.  

We are so thankful that the Hudson Family Foundation invited us to submit the grant that has already had such an impact on our gardens. We also know that the impact is just beginning and it will continue to grow for many years to come.