Please meet  Eric Townsend and Lacey Bray, two interns who had the opportunity to work all summer at Naples Botanical Garden because of our  grant awarded to NBG in April.Image 1

Eric Townsend’s area of study is horticultural therapy.  Eric spent his summer working in both the Buehler Enabling Garden and in the Smith Children’s Garden. Eric reports that he has been able to broaden his knowledge of horticultural therapy both by working in these two areas and by conducting research into possible Florida therapy plants. His research also included investigating the barriers that have prevented horticultural therapy from becoming a more widely recognized tool for aiding people who are impaired. The next endeavor for Eric at NBG is to work with the Conservation and Education Department’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE), a program for children with learning disorders, autism, or other challenges that makes a regular classroom a difficult environment for them. ESE takes place in the garden and is set up by the school board.

Eric says, “ I am truly thankful to have had this opportunity to branch out from regular by-the-book psychology into the awesome burgeoning field of horticultural therapy. If it hadn’t been for Emily Wilson telling me about this opportunity the Garden Club was providing, I might have never gone beyond thinking [it] was a really cool idea!”

Horticultural Therapy was Eric’s major while at the University of Florida at Gainsville. He plans to finish his education with online classes in psychology. Eric hopes to fold this summer’s experience and knowledge into a career working with people who have traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Image 5Lacey Bray worked in NBG’s Wildflower Meadow all summer. Lacey has written to me about her experience and plans for the future. She has been responsible for thematic designs in the meadow that help to encourage and educate home gardeners in butterfly gardening, drought tolerance, and gardening with native plants. Lacey illustrated the use of native plants in a very surprising way by planting them as container gardens –a filler, a thriller and a spiller! Lacey writes that each of these three projects has reinstated her love for gardening and specifically for native plants.

It was also exciting to hear that NBG has offered our enthusiastic intern a temporary position working on a new green roof project. Lacey will be responsible for determining which plants will work and thrive on our Florida roofs, which in our climate is quite a challenge!  Lacey graduated August 4th from FGCU with a degree in Environmental Studies.

Her future plans include the option to further her education by getting a masters degree in environmental education/advocacy or  by working for a non-profit focused on conservation and environmental education. Either is a win/win pursuit for our club and for the world at large!