As we start a new year, it is a good time to look back and see what we accomplished the previous year. In addition to the normal events, we added the Enchanted Forest which drew lots of new visitors to the Arboretum. Botanical Brewfest and Luminary Walk were bigger and better than ever. We expect they will continue to grow this next year under the experienced leadership of Tom Metzker and Irene Parsons, respectively, plus the army of volunteers who help with each of these events. Luminary Walk was expanded to three weekends in order to attempt to alleviate the excessive crowd on any one night. We were lucky with good weather, albeit a little cold a couple of the evenings, and we weren’t overwhelmed any night. We exceeded our 2012 high number of attendees after four evenings and after six counted over 19,000 people who enjoyed the light display.
I’m often asked, “What does the Friends of the Arboretum (FOTA) Advisory Board do?” In addition to sponsoring most of the activities at the Arboretum, we make decisions, in conjunction with Karen Kerkhoff, Arboretum Supervisor, and Greg Reuther, Director of Park Services, about how to spend the money that has been donated and earned through fund-raising activities. The money paid for FOTA memberships is a part of that money pool that is used for enhancements, and sometimes maintenance, at the Arboretum.
Each year FOTA funds the Events Coordinator position, something that can’t be seen but is so important to the smooth running of events. Soon the Arboretum will be breaking ground on a new greenhouse, again something not seen by the general public, but important to the operation of the Arboretum. This has been funded by FOTA. Soon you will start to see new signage appear throughout the Arboretum, giving a more consistent look and providing better directions. Again, funded by FOTA. There has been money set aside to fund the next build-out of the Train Garden. We also fund the bird feed to fill the bird feeders, and the Bird Committee will be buying and installing four new bluebird boxes this year. There are several other items that have been funded to get them started that you will hear more about in future messages.
Be assured that membership dues go to a good purpose, and I guarantee that the Advisory Board is very thoughtful about how that money is spent. I often hear the phrase “the most bang for our buck” at meetings. If you’re not a member but enjoy the Arboretum and want to see it grow and flourish, I invite you to become a FOTA member.