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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.


Earth Colors Workshop comes to The Gardens in January

published: 12/07/2016

Earth Colors Workshop comes to The Gardens in January

Robin Whitfield comes to Birmingham Botanical Gardens on January 21 from 9-4 p.m. for a new elective in the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series called ""Earth Colors Workshop." Whitfield will show students how to create art with the plants around them. To reserve a seat in the class, click here.

Whitfield recently shared more about the upcoming workshop.

Simply put, in this workshop, we're painting with plants. Right?


Plants and dirt and minerals - we're basically going to be exploring some things that I bring and we'll be collecting from The Gardens with whatever parameters we have. My interest in doing these workshops is altering the way that people look at nature; to look closer, to think about their relationship to things and the relationship of plants and minerals to human history and to each other.

We won't use a binder. We'll be collecting things, and I'll show people some processes that I've come to develop to refine some of the colors and we'll just play around.

Is this difficult?

That's a loaded question! I've done this with all age levels, and what's really exciting about it is - kids are never scared, but adults are scared of creating things on paper. If you give adults a white piece of paper, they freak out. But when I give them a bunch of dirt and berries and flower petals and a white piece of paper, they can't wait to start smushing it on the paper!

What I really like about this process is that it breaks down some sort of fear in people and it brings out the child in them. Because there's no preconceived notion about playing with dirt. The last time you did it, you were six. I believe all humans are creative. I believe that's what makes our species unique. And our culture hasn't given most people an opportunity to embrace that.

It's not difficult. But as a professional artist, I've certainly made it difficult for myself. I like to push myself, and I've pushed it to levels where I'm happy. I like for things to be a challenge. But with this workshop, we'll experiment and play and have fun with it. I try to make students get in touch with human ancestry. All humans have only used plants and minerals until the "Wal-Marting" of America - until paint was easily available at a store, all that we had was what was in the forest and rivers.

And obviously this art has been around forever, but how has it evolved into the new millennium?

I've done these workshops with middle school students and garden clubs - every time I go in, it seems so fresh and new to everyone. Like it was never conceived to use what was literally in their backyard as paint. The freshness in the new millennium is that we've forgotten that nature is the ultimate store. It's our ultimate natural resource. We don't have to have a middle man - like a store - to buy a product. We can learn to see it.

Our culture hasn't taught us how to see our own yards or forests. We don't forage for our own food and we don't garden as much and maybe we aren't as familiar with the colors that might be out there. People have fears because they don't spend a lot of time in nature. This process is very hands-on. All of your senses are involved. You listen to the leaves crunch and you smell them and you're digging in the dirt and you're smelling that wet mud smell. It's sad to say, but that's a very new way of being with nature in the 21st century. Especially for kids - they've not been given an opportunity to get dirty of be in natural settings as much.

What plants offer the most color?

My favorite, by far, is the poke. Poke salad. The poke leaves is like using a green magic marker - you just hold in a big wad and it comes off like paint. My whole back yard is basically a garden of poke salad so I can have it for my workshop.

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.


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