December 6, 2017 – In December 2017, Steve Wright, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Director of Horticulture and Curator of Plant Collections, received one of the two prestigious Chanticleer Scholarships. Since 2008, The Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development has promoted creativity and leadership by providing public garden professionals across the country with financial support for academic training to improve their leadership skills. Specifically, the scholarship supports an educational experience and travel expenses to meet with other leaders in the field of public horticulture.
With this support, Steve’s primary goal was to meet with the curators and garden managers at other gardens who are managing nationally accredited collections of rhododendrons. In addition to simply seeing their gardens, Steve was interested in sharing plant lists, learning how those organizations curate and manage their collections, and generally “talking shop”. In addition, he used the opportunity to visit nurseries and individuals who have made significant contributions in the world of native azalea conservation and propagation. The experience took him all over the east coast with stops in Auburn, AL, Marietta, GA, Sevierville, TN, Asheville, NC, Aiken, SC, Richmond, VA, and New London, CT.
The Scholarship is aimed at public garden employees who are in, or hope to move into, leadership positions and feel they need more training and exposure. With such a small staff at Jenkins, these travel opportunities are rare, and taking significant time away from the Arboretum during the busiest time of the year makes things a bit complicated. Regardless, the experience proved to be very valuable for Steve, and the connections made will be valuable well into the future at Jenkins. Many thanks go to the Chanticleer Foundation for providing this wonderful opportunity.