Page 8 spacer Botanic Garden News spacer Spring 2000
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Volunteer News

spacerMadelaine Zadik

     The Botanic Garden is thrilled with our new crop of volunteers. This very enthusiastic group completed the intense three-day training in January and has jumped right in to the mix of activities swirling around us this time of year. Volunteers dutifully staffed the Bulb Show, answering every question imaginable, horticultural and not; served as hosts during our spring lecture series, Designs on the Land; potted plants for our fall plant sale (stay tuned for the date); and have been giving tours to the variety of groups that come through the greenhouses. We are preparing ourselves for the large number of school groups that descend in spring. Volunteers have also developed two new thematic tours, one on medicinal plants and the other on plants of Puerto Rico. While we are always saying how much we benefit from and appreciate the efforts of all the volunteers, Ellice Gonzalez, in the article on this page, tells the story from a volunteer's point of view. Many thanks. decoration

spacer spacer   Answers: Tradition Trivia (from page 6)

1. True, from Smith College Weekly, May 28, 1930. The grotto refers to the Rock Garden.
2. True, from Lissa Harris '98, personal communication.
3. True, from Smith College Weekly, October 1, 1913, April 23, 1930, and April 13, 1932.
4. True, from Smith College Weekly, March 14, 1934. The hammock tradition dated to 1890-1900.
5. True, from prep school advice cited by Blossom Hansen '63, Smith College Archives.
6. Fictitious.
7. True since 1993, from the Botanic Garden of Smith College Web page
8. Undecided, as this "tradition" was established in 1999.

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spacer Volunteer Musings

spacerEllice Gonzalez

     On a bitterly cold January day two years ago, I walked through the doors of the Lyman Conservatory for the first time. At once I felt transported to a magical place-one streaming with sunlight highlighting a kaleidoscope of colors and with the air full of seductive fragrances. I had entered a tropical paradise. This was the first day of my training, and I knew immediately that I would enjoy volunteering at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. What I did not know was how this experience would go far beyond a delightful exposure to beautiful plants.
     In September of 1997, my husband and I moved to the Valley from Long Island. Our choice was made because of the geographical beauty and cultural richness of the area. But moving meant establishing a new network of friends and activities. On Long Island most of my volunteer work was at the board level, and I truly wanted a more hands-on experience. I have a serious interest in gardening, and that interest combined with a desire to meet people made volunteering at the Botanic Garden a natural fit.
     From the beginning I knew this was no ordinary volunteer experience. The thorough and intense training sessions gave me a taste of academic life at Smith. Indeed, the on-going training-visiting the many gardens and specimen trees on campus-is a continuing education for me. Symposia and workshops on land management, landscape architecture, horticulture, and flower arranging broadened my horizons beyond my initial desire to learn about plants. The effort given to train and educate volunteers is a testimony to how seriously the Botanic Garden's staff appreciates our contribution and how much they value our time.
     The best part of volunteering at the Garden is the people I meet. Giving tours has its own rewards-especially when you see a child's eyes light up as they make a connection between the plants they observe and something they learned in the classroom. Whenever I walk into the Conservatory, it is like visiting a close friend's home. The staff-Madelaine, Rob, Susan, Steve, Maryjane, Diane, and Jeff-are always welcoming and friendly in spite of the many demands on their time. They have the patience to answer my questions, no matter how many times I ask the same one. The volunteers I have met are a diverse and fascinating group of people. Two of my closest friends in the Valley are women I met through the Botanic Garden volunteer program.
     My desire to have a hands-on volunteer experience couldn't be more hands on-potting and moving plants for the plant sale, filling seed orders for the Site Index Seminum, and fighting my way through throngs of people at the Bulb Show to get supplies into the women's bathroom! My volunteer experience nurtures my interest in gardening and is an extraordinary opportunity for educational enrichment. It has opened doors to the social life of my new community, and teaching others, especially children, about the natural world richly rewards me. In my new position as Historic Site Administrator at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, I am working with another group of volunteers. The volunteer program at the Garden serves as my model. My ultimate goal is to provide the Homestead volunteers with the same level of enjoyment that I have experienced at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. decoration

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