January 2019 Friends of the Arboretum Newsletter

Chair’s Corner

Welcome to 2019!
Just as you’ve probably set new year goals for your personal and professional life, your FOTA Advisory Board has done the same. We’re excited about the opportunities ahead in the new year, but we can’t do it without your help as FOTA members. Here are our 2019 goals and some ideas on how you can help move us toward them – is there anything here that piques your interest?
Fundraising – our goal is to make $350,000 – $375,000 from our events and memberships.
You can help by:
  • Checking out the event calendar to see what you’d like to attend. Be sure to check out our three signature fundraising events: the Plant Sale, Botanical Brewfest, and Luminary Walk. We’re also looking at additional fundraising avenues for 2019, so stay tuned as those plans unfold.
  • Renewing your FOTA membership when it comes due, and consider upgrading your membership. More information about membership levels and benefits is available by clicking here.
  • Encouraging your friends, family and neighbors to also attend events and become FOTA members!
Marketing/Communications – our new marketing committee has started off with a bang, with local marketing professionals and consultants on board sharing their expertise. We’re excited to build out our marketing plan for 2019 and beyond, with the goal of increasing awareness and attendance at the Arboretum. Based on our Luminary Walk attendance numbers (more than 21,000 this past December), it’s obvious people know how to find us, but many of them have only seen the Arboretum in the winter in the dark! We want to encourage our KC community to come out all throughout the rest of the year to see all that the Arboretum has to offer, and here’s how you can help:
  • Send me an email at fotachair@artsandrec-op.org answering any or all of the following questions:
    • Why do you think the Arboretum is an important part of our community?
    • What do you do when you come to the Arboretum?
    • What’s your favorite thing about the Arboretum?
Volunteers – we can’t do all we do without our foundation of committed volunteers. Some are here nearly every day, and some help out for specific events, but they all have fun and they all do it because they love the Arboretum. We want to be sure our volunteers are happy and feel appreciated – because they’re very valuable! So we’re establishing a Volunteer Committee to determine any gaps that need to be filled and develop a strategy to fill those gaps. Here’s how you can help:
  • Become a volunteer – the next new volunteer orientation will be held Wednesday, January 23 in the Visitor Center. Whatever your interest, there’s probably a job for you – and it doesn’t have to involve weeding or even being outside! Contact Kim Alvarez to sign up for orientation – kim.alvarez@opkansas.org.
  • Send me an email at fotachair@artsandrec-op.org with any suggestions you have for volunteer “care and feeding.”
We’ve also tweaked our Vision Statement for the Friends of the Arboretum: To support through funding, planning, and volunteering the Arboretum’s mission of advancing environmental education, recreation and the appreciation of nature in providing the community with both a cultural center and nature preserve. Thanks for considering how you can be more involved in advancing that mission.
See you at the Arb!
Sonya Wright
Chair, Friends of the Arboretum

Volunteer Spotlight: The Train Guys

Many of you have probably noticed the amazing addition to our Train Garden. Filled with unique features like waterfalls, interactive components and elevated tracks (unique to G-scale train layouts), the new North Layout adds to the charm of the existing Leaky Roof and Old Town layouts and will continue to be a favorite visiting spot – especially amongst our younger visitors. The volunteers featured in this month’s newsletter have been key in implementing this sophisticated yet whimsical addition. The complexity and sheer size of the new layout created many obstacles, however this group worked together, each lending their individual talents, allowing them to debut the new North Layout at our largest fundraiser – Luminary Walk.

Bill Hart, Russ Hayden, Nathan Moeller, Leo Handzlik, Dan Kay, Brian Hancock, Tom Mencer, Dutch Metzker, Bob Bornkessel, Lyle Brende, John Van Buskirk, Jim Buehler and Dan Burnett are our rock star train volunteers.

Bill Hart, one of the original 3 Amigos (Bob Pryzby, Russ Hayden & Bill) worked on the initial track layout and was charged with the electrical design and implementation of this abstract blueprint. He also oversees the maintenance of the diesel locomotives on these new tracks. Bill has been involved with the train garden for seven years. When asked about the new layout, he says, “When the North Layout is completed it will be one of the largest outdoor operating model train displays in the US. I am proud to be a part of that.”

Brian Hancock, another valued member of the train committee has consistently helped run the trains for special events like Stems and Luminary Walk. He was also involved with the planning and design of the new layout. He is a regular attendee at all the train committee meetings and is a new member on the FOTA Advisory Board. Thank you, Brian, for your quiet leadership and dedicated service.

John Van Buskirk has been volunteering at the Arboretum since 2012. His volunteer activities include plant sale, Nights at the Arboretum, Brewfest – and just about whatever else you ask him to do; he is however one of our consistent train operators so his experience is crucial when it comes to running the trains. Thank you for your reliability and gentle nature, John!

Jim Buehler is another consistent train operator who has been volunteering since January 2015. He too helps in other areas like Brewfest (he likes beer), Hedge Apple Days and more, however he always makes sure our special events are covered as well as Sundays. Thank you for being one of our weekend warriors, Jim!

Russ Hayden has been volunteering at the Arboretum since November 2012. Also one of the original 3 Amigos , his understanding of model trains and his vision have been instrumental in the planning and design of the North Layout. He used his skills to help construct and paint the new layout as well as to help light the buildings. His commitment has been key for the completion of this project.

Tom Mencer has helped in the train garden since he started volunteering in February 2014. Not only is he involved on the Train committee, he is also an active member of the Bird Committee and is Chair of our Botanical Brewfest. His contributions to the North Layout included design and track construction; he also helps make sure the trains are in running order at many of our special events. Thank you for all you do to make the Arboretum a better place, Tom.

Lyle Brende started volunteering at the Arboretum when he was with the Midland Loan group in 2006; he then branched out on his own in November 2015 and became one of our registered volunteers. He has continuously helped run the trains during our special events and is an active member on the Train Committee. His input has helped bring this new track to fruition and we are so appreciative.

Nathan Moeller has been involved with the train garden for the last year and helped with track construction, track testing and building placement of the new layout. He also assists with making sure the steamer locomotives and rolling stock are in running condition. He was charged with performing track preparations and selecting locomotives and rolling stock for all layouts during the 2018 Luminary Walk. When asked what he likes most about the North Layout, he says, “It was designed so that there is no one place for a visitor to watch all the trains go around. I think visitors will enjoy walking all through the layout to follow the trains along their routes through various landscapes.” He says he also appreciates the fact that there are representations of local and regional landmarks that were once touched by railroading.

Dan Burnett has been volunteering at the Arboretum since May 2016. He also volunteers at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. Dan is always willing to help and is a hard worker. His activities include prairie restoration, garden greeter and Arbor Day activities, however most of his time is spent running trains. Whether it is for special events like Luminary Walk or the daily operation of the train garden, his service is significant. Thank you for your flexibility and work ethic, Dan!

Leo Handzlik built and painted 14 of the buildings in the new layout. He said he enjoyed doing this since, “I acquired kit building skills having constructed literally hundreds of model airplanes when I was a youngster- and older.” He was responsible for maintenance repairs and ran the trains during this year’s Luminary Walk. He continues to recruit train garden volunteers and is set to lead a Train Garden Training on February 13th here at the Arboretum. Thank you for your leadership, Leo.

Dutch Metzker is another faithful member of the Train Committee. He has been volunteering since December 2015; his expertise is in construction, gardening and lawn & landscape. Needless to say, his help during the construction phase of the new layout was extremely helpful. He also helps the gnome ladies with details for their village so he is very busy from about August through December of each year. Thank you for giving your time and talents, Dutch!

Bob Bornkessel has been a volunteer since May 2016 and an active member of the Train Committee since he started volunteering. His contributions with layout and design as well as construction were invaluable. He has put in many hours to help construct and run this new North Layout. Thank you for your dedication, Bob!

Dan Kay has been volunteering at the Arboretum since July 2016 and immediately got involved in the Train Garden. He contributed to the building construction and tunnel portals of the new layout; he also painted several new train cars used on this new track. Thank you, Dan, for lending your time and talents towards the completion of our new North Layout.

The original proposal of a north layout was first drawn up in August 2009; the evolution of the layout grew from four individual tracks to seven and includes over 1,100 feet of track. It has taken many hands and a lot of hard work to see this project through. These men alone have documented over 15,953 hours of service. To say that they have left their footprint at the Arboretum is an understatement. Without their service, there would be no train garden, much less a new North Layout. Thank you for your vision, your hard work and your perseverance in seeing this project through.