Director's Report, Summer 2022

By Jodie Holt |

As a public university botanic garden our mission is to provide a curated, living plant collection for research, education, and enjoyment. Over the past few years Janine and our staff and volunteers have made renewed efforts to update the collection database, augment the collection with new plantings, enhance the educational value of our collection and gardens through signage and interactive GIS Story Maps, and beautify the planted beds for greater impact and enjoyment by all.

Of course, without visitors a botanic garden would not serve its purpose of engaging the public. Most well-established gardens have dedicated staff to ensure a positive and rewarding visitor experience, from the moment one steps into the garden to the time one leaves. In our case, if you have been a member, volunteer, visitor, or participant in our events you know that we have been able to manage visitors, programs, and events only by dispersing responsibilities over several staff members and recruiting volunteers to assist.

That is why I am pleased to announce that with careful planning and budgeting we have just hired our very first part-time Visitor Services Coordinator! Nancy Cullen is a long-time Friends member and volunteer with a background in landscape development, engineering, education, design, and customer service. She has already begun scheduling volunteer gate Stewards, reaching out to new prospective volunteers, and helping organize events. Over time we will create additional activities for Nancy to enhance the visitor experience.

When you visit you might see another new hire, Nikki van de Klundert, who has joined us as a part-time Nursery Technician. We plan to recruit another full time Nursery Technician during the summer to add needed capacity to our Gardens workforce. Our hardworking horticultural volunteers continue to make essential contributions to the upkeep of the Gardens by pruning, weeding, and cleaning up, effectively expanding our workforce beyond what our budget allows. 

During this time of turnover, CNAS lost several development staff to retirement or recruitment by other institutions, which impacted us since the team has been crucial to our ability to host Primavera in the Gardens and other events over the past few years. I am pleased to announce that Robyn Martinelli has joined CNAS as the new Assistant Dean for Development and has already begun collaborating with us on new initiatives, donor relations, and future events.

Returning to a new normal after the past few years has been challenging; however, with new staff on board we are excited to be planning for a bright future for the Gardens. As always, please stay connected through our website, eNews, and social media, and send your thoughts and feedback to me at or 951-827-7095.


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