• Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward
  • Growing Forward

Tom Underwood named executive director at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

published: 01/11/2017

Tom Underwood named executive director at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens has named its new executive director. In February, Tom Underwood will take on the role, succeeding Fred Spicer who departed in 2016.

Underwood comes to The Gardens from the American Horticultural Society where he also - and most recently - served as executive director. 

Prior to his time at AHS, Underwood spent 23 years at Walt Disney World where he served in a variety of roles prior to becoming Manager of the Horticulture Services Department. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic State University and a Masters in Science Education from the University of Central Florida.

This announcement comes as the result of a nationwide search for the best candidate to advance the leadership and mission of Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This search was ably led by John Floyd, formerly Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living magazine, and his committee which included representatives from several groups including: Kevin Moore, Director of the City of Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board, James Horton, Director of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Penney Hartline, Vice President of Development of Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Mike Rushing, representing the multiple plant societies active at The Gardens, garden club benefactors representative and incoming Board of Directors Chair Beverley Hoyt and Carl Jones and Bill Ireland, also from the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Board of Directors.

"We couldn't be more excited about Tom joining our team" offers Brian Barr, who has served as Chair of the Friends Board the past two years. "Our organization enjoys a great public/private partnership with the City of Birmingham to promote knowledge and appreciation of plants and gardens and their importance to our environment. Tom's background is a great fit to help us keep on track to become one of the nation's preeminent Botanical Gardens."

To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828. 

 


About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. It boasts 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the only public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors. 


Girl Scout Troop 31017 recognized as Volunteer Partner of the Year

published: 12/15/2016

Girl Scout Troop 31017 recognized as Volunteer Partner of the Year

In June of 2014 a program called Girls in The Gardens began through a partnership between The Gardens, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama with the mission to "build girls of courage, confidence and character, while promoting the knowledge and appreciation of plants, gardens and the environment through a research-based education program. And that's exactly what was done. In the two and a half years since then, Girl Scout Troop 31017 has become an invaluable partner to The Gardens.

On Thursday, The Gardens recognized this group of young women as its Volunteer Partner of the Year at its annual Volunteer Luncheon.

The troop, open to girls from fifth to 12th grade, has grown in number from five scouts to 11, with three of the founding members remaining. The scouts have tested water quality, volunteered for almost every major event we have such as Earth Day at The Gardens, Spring and Fall Plant Sales, Butterfly Education and Awareness Day, Flicks Amongst the Flowers and Antiques at The Gardens and they have been some of the best teen counselors for Children's Summer Camps and Garden Explorations programs. Perhaps most notably, they chose to work with The Gardens to complete their Silver Award Project.

The Silver Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. The award is given to Girl Scouts who identify a community need and design and deliver a project that will meet that need. At the start of their first Cadette year, the girls chose their troop crest to define what the main focus of their troop would be. They chose the honey bee. To them the honey bee represented "hard work and industry, and a desire to both work hard and be an inspiration to others." So when they saw the need for a pollinator habit near our bee hives, it was natural fit. They chose to design and install what is now known as the Pollinator Habitat Display Area at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as their project because they are, in their own words "passionate about bees and other pollinators and are concerned about their health. We hope that the pollinator garden will educate people about a wide variety of pollinators and what they need to survive."

Often their volunteer activities at The Gardens include educating the public about Pollinator Conservation. More recent members to the troop have earned subsequent Bronze and Silver Awards by establishing the area as a Monarch Waystation and expanding the footprint and biodiversity of the habitat. Our education staff designed a new Pollinator Observation Discovery Field Trip around the display area and the habitat itself has opened up The Gardens to eligibility for greater funding through pollinator conservation programs. The girls: Emma, Georgia, Perry, Alexandria, Audrey, Calliope, Claudia, Julia, Molly, Sophi and Zaida, and their leaders: currently Danielle Dowell and Rachel Wright, previously Jennifer Dussich and Carol Haygood (who still serves as liaison to The Gardens) work tirelessly to further both the mission of the Girl Scouts and the mission of The Gardens. That is why Girl Scout Troop 31017 has been selected as The Gardens' Volunteer Partner of the Year for 2016. We graciously thank them for the service they have provided to our community and for their continued efforts.


To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.


Read More Garden Posts