March 2019 Friends of the Arboretum Newsletter

Chair’s Corner

The Overland Park Arboretum: Nature That Nurtures

Two members of the Arts & Recreation Foundation Board – Phil Bressler and Wendy Blackburn – recently walked the Arboretum’s marketing committee through a two-months’ long exercise to determine the Arboretum’s “brand essence”. The exercise covered a variety of aspects of the Arboretum to determine why people visit and what the Arboretum represents to the community. The most powerful brands stand for something unique and relevant yet simple. So what’s the Arboretum’s brand?

While it’s obvious that a botanical garden would have flowers and trees, the Arboretum also offers woodland trails and unique art exhibits, as well as learning opportunities for all ages and levels of interest. The Arboretum is also a “hobbyist haven” for bird watchers, photographers, artists, and gardeners.

Every time you visit the Arboretum, it’s a new experience. New growth emerges and blooms throughout the seasons, and even in our current “can’t wait for spring” mode, there are intriguing things to see and do. The Arboretum offers a mental break, an escape from the ordinary, and personal restoration.

At the conclusion of the branding exercise, the committee determined that the simple statement that best represented the Arboretum’s brand essence was Nature That Nurtures. We all need nurturing, especially after a long, hard, and dark winter – so come on out and watch spring unfold!

Sonya Wright
Chair, Friends of the Arboretum

Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Ledbetter

Did you know that our Arboretum volunteers give more than 25,000 hours of their time per year? And the value of that time equates to approximately $617,250.00 per year*? To say that volunteer service is valuable is an understatement.


We are blessed to have such a talented, intelligent group here at the Arboretum and our featured volunteer this month, Kim Ledbetter is one of our most dedicated and hard working. Kim started volunteering in 2013 as an area point monitor for Stems. She said she had so much fun, she kept coming back. Since then, she has participated in outreach activities, held leadership positions for Brewfest and Luminary and now serves as secretary on the FOTA board. Her organizational skills, kind personality and reliability have benefited the Arboretum greatly. She said she enjoys working with the volunteers and staff doing just about anything and states, “it is always satisfying to see how the moving parts and hard work come together to create memorable events.”


Although Kim doesn’t remember how she originally heard about the Arboretum, she does recall the first time she walked the property. She said it was early spring and the trees were just starting to bud. She said her and her daughter returned at least once a month for the rest of the year and each time had a different experience – that “it was like visiting a whole new place each time.”  Kim enjoys being outside and surrounded by nature. She says that one of her favorite local places to hike is the prairie. She remembers the first time she visited the prairie, “it was in full bloom and a sea of yellow. It still makes me smile when I think about it.” 


Another activity Kim enjoys is researching her genealogy. She has traveled to find old cemeteries and dig through local records. Her most recent project has been digitalizing, indexing and formatting a book her great grandfather wrote about his life.


In addition to nature and research, Kim says that her daughter brings her the most joy. She describes her daughter as “creative, fun and an awesome person to be on a road trip with.” She goes on to say, “I’ve learned so much from her and it has been amazing watching her grow into a young woman who can take care of herself.” If, she is anything like her mom, she will definitely impact this world for the better.


Thank you, Kim, for your incredible contributions. Your commitment and selflessness to helping others and the natural world are a testament to your generous spirit. We are grateful for your service.


*Independent Sector Releases New Value of Volunteer Time of $24.69 Per Hour. 2018, April 19. Independent Sector. Retrieved from: