Harold Sweetman Announces Plan to Retire as Executive Director

August 8, 2018  – There has always been a Director with the Sweetman name at Jenkins Arboretum since 1974 until 2019. Leonard Sweetman was hired by the trustee at that time to begin the initial plantings even before opening to the public in 1976. As the only full-time gardening director, Leonard worked tirelessly for the last 12 years of his life in growing a public garden for the future yet one he would never have the opportunity to enjoy in his retirement.  Leonard dedicated the last months of his life to helping his son, Harold Sweetman, transition as the next garden director.  Leonard died suddenly from a stroke the week following his full retirement in 1986. Harold, like his father, was the only full-time staff/gardener until 1999.

Harold Sweetman, over the past 32 years, continued planting with each growing season.  In addition to growing the gardens, he grew a staff of dedicated horticulturists. Maggie Knapp was the very first full-time gardener in 1999, followed by remarkable Hamilton Educational Fellows, including Steve Wright, Director of Horticulture and Maddison Paule, current Head Horticulturist. With the gardens flourishing and the resulting increased visitation, the John J. Willaman Education Center opened in 2009. Behind the scenes, Janice Legg, Administrator, and Janet Bauman, Development Director, also became full-time staff in 2009. Also behind the scenes for 25 years has been a governing Board of Directors composed of talented community leaders, professionals, and horticultural enthusiasts.

With the Forever Jenkins – Endow an Acre Endowment Campaign well underway and approaching the $20 million goal, hopefully by 2020, it seemed time to make way for a new director. Undoubtedly the new Executive Director and passionate gardeners, staff, and community members all dedicated to the special mission of Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will ensure that Jenkins will continue to flourish and be a vibrant public garden “Forever”.

Help honor the retirement of the Executive Director with a special endowment gift to the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman

The permanent endowment has many named funds that are recognized in all Newsletter/Annual Report publications. Past president of the Jenkins board, Karla Herr, and her late husband Phil, have been generous supporters for many years and it was their desire to establish the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman. Funds in the endowment will ensure Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will be a public garden for many generations to come. Forever Jenkins – Endow an Acre Campaign is currently 67% ($13.4 million) toward the goal of $20 million by the year 2020. Help us honor Harold by contributing to the fund. Reaching the endowment goal of $20 million by 2020 will fulfill his vision.

Many people are unaware that Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins left in trust a modest $600,000 and there were no gardens – only undisturbed woodlands. The gardens and the endowment have grown dramatically over the years thanks to the wonderful generosity individuals and foundations that truly recognize the importance of preserving Jenkins will into the future.

Please help Jenkins reach our goal by contributing to the Fund in Honor of Harold and Christine Sweetman or by creating another named fund in someone else’s honor. If financially supporting this campaign at this time is not possible, please consider making a pledge or planned gift in the future by including Jenkins in your will. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.