Keep Growing 2020: The Ten-Year Strategic Plan
school groups

Vision and Goals

Education and Community Programs: Vision

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s education programs will use the power of plants and nature to teach and enrich people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, at the Garden and in the diverse communities where they live and work. Garden education and community programs will reflect excellence in content and teaching, continually evolve to keep pace with a changing world, and be closely evaluated for performance. The Garden will ensure that every program creates a safe space for personal and community learning, is inclusive and fully accessible, and communicates the value of plants to human life as well as the impact of human activity on the health of natural ecosystems.

Education and Community Programs: Goals

III.1    At the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School will offer the highest caliber of instruction on subjects related to plants, horticulture, natural and designed environments, global climate change, human health and well-being, and plant-related arts and humanities. It will be recognized as an international center of best practice for early childhood, K-12 environmental science education, and teacher professional development. For adults, the Regenstein School will offer a rich and changing array of classes, professional certificate programs, and professional development opportunities, independently and in collaboration with partner education institutions.

III.2    The Horticultural Therapy Services program will be an international leader in creating and using plant-centered therapies, people-plant research, publications, and professional training programs to serve the health and wellness needs of people of all abilities from birth through death. It will also promote, through direct consultation, the inclusion of well-designed green spaces in order to enrich the experiences of people living in a variety of homes, schools, and caretaking environments.

III.3    The Windy City Harvest program will model how a botanic garden can make vital, year-round contributions to sustainable, plant-based local food systems and entry-level career training in horticulture. It will do this through adult certificate education programs and internships, youth leadership programs, and innovative vegetable and plant production programs that build urban resilience, strengthen underserved communities, and increase access to good nutrition and fresh produce.

III.4    Overall, the Garden’s Education and Community Programs division will reach and affect more people, generate more revenue, and advance plant-based expertise and knowledge locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally through a wide variety of educational strategies. These include conference presentations and keynote presentations in competitive venues, print and electronic publications, online learning programs, digital certification initiatives, social media, and citizen science collaborations with institutions nationally and internationally.

III.5    Starting in the fourth quarter of 2014, the division will also explore the requirements for the Garden to be certified as a degree-granting institution by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Such status would enable the Garden to greatly expand the scope of its educational offerings and substantially address the dearth of two and four-year academic training programs in general horticulture and related fields.