With each passing season, I'm filled with thoughts of thankfulness and anticipation. I'm thankful to all of you who so generously contributed to Nurturing Nature 2012 – our recent Annual Appeal. With your help, we exceeded our goals for this fundraiser, not only setting a higher bar for next year, but also reaffirming, in my mind, how much you appreciate and value Reeves-Reed Arboretum.
Let's face it - giving feels good...and it's addictive. There've been several studies that show altruism stimulates and reinforces the same pleasure centers in the brain as sugar, chocolate, and laughter. Givers tend to be happier people. So it's clear to me that we have a lot of happy people out there who care about and support the Arboretum. Why not indulge your addiction, and we'll change the old saying from, "Give until it hurts" to "Give until it feels good!"
And I'm giddy with anticipation because of what's in store for all of us this coming year – the 40th anniversary of Reeves-Reed Arboretum. As we move ahead in these coming months, the previous model of the public garden as a place of passive enjoyment will be replaced with a more active, participatory one. The team here at the Arboretum wants you to see and experience RRA as a community resource, providing not only a welcomed rest bit from the day, but also education, inspiration, and especially service to all who visit. Speaking of our visitors, numbers for 2012 have exceeded 60,000! Now that's impressive, and it's the perfect segue into the status of the Gateway Project. Construction's more than half done and we anticipate officially re-opening the Arboretum to the general public in time for Daffodil Day, April 14. These welcomed improvements, as well as the installation of the Freeman Medal Garden, will add to the overall enjoyment and safe access of the grounds for all.
This year's tag line for ART in the Garden, "building a greener future," promises some new and exciting projects and programs. For example, thanks to a grant from the Summit Area Public Foundation, RRA and our partners at The Connection will jointly host an environmental science and personal empowerment summer camp for low income Latina middle school girls. TV Fox News' meteorologist, Maria Molina, will act as science advisor to the camp. Our EcoCorps Program will offer special hands-on horticultural and mentoring opportunities for our friends with learning disabilities through our partnership with ECLC / PRIDE. These two programs, along with our already successful Elephant Tree Camp and Discovery Saturdays, reinforce our deep commitment to community building, education, environmental stewardship, and service. A comprehensive performing and visual arts component will be added to round out the summer featuring a group of professional artists and musicians, re- uniting the Arboretum with NJPAC.
To all our members and corporate sponsors - you are the bricks we need and count on for "building a greener future." So let's meet in the garden very soon and share the fruits of our combined dreams.