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Student Directors in the Windy City

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
by Roberto Leon | Marketing and Outreach Director

Lurie Garden in Chicago

Our Student Directors made their way to Chicago the past two Fridays to explore other establishments similar to our own. The purpose of these field trips was to expose us to other ways of thinking and gain inspiration for some ideas we are currently working on. Take a look at what some of the Student Directors said.

Student Directors at the Field Museum

At the Field Museum | Friday, July 15, 2016

Kaitlin McIntosh, Programs and Events Director

The Allen Centennial Garden team traveled to the Field Museum in Chicago where we met with Kelsey Stiles, Public Learning Experiences Coordinator at the Field Museum. We experienced the Cart Programs on the museum floor where museum volunteers and interns of all different ages; including middle school, high school and adult, create “pop-up cart” programming. They educate the museum visitors on various topics and artifacts.

The Field Museum does a great job encouraging participatory learning. Visitors learn through interaction with objects being on display. The Cart Programs create important learning and encourages interaction with the museum's collection. We are working to do the same thing in the Garden. We want to bring people from all different backgrounds together for participatory learning. As the Student Director of Events and Programming, it was great to see how successful and influential participatory programming can be. I hope to incorporate their participatory approaches into the Garden’s programming.

Interns recieve a tour from Scott Stewart, Garden Director of the Lurie Garden

At the Lurie Garden | Friday, July 22, 2016

Sara Vega, Sustainability and Urban Agriculture Director

Situated on top of the parking structure of Millennium Park, the Lurie Garden offers an oasis to Chicagoans in the heart of the city. The stark contrast between the almost wild appearing landscapes and the highly structured Chicago skyline stunned me. I had never seen such a strong juxtaposition in my life. Undulating waves of greens and purples crashed into the geometric backdrop of the looming towers. I could feel the awe envelope my group as we took in the vista and awaited our tour from Scott Stewart, Director of the Lurie Garden.

Lurie Garden also made me think deeply about the “native” plants at the Garden. My background in identifying invasive plants in Wisconsin and doing work to mitigate them has made me a Wisconsin plant purist. My instinct is to uproot forsythia plantings along forest pathways when I stroll through parks in Milwaukee and to scold others for planting prolific non-natives. At Lurie Garden, the attitude is different. The garden consists of two “plates”; the Light Plate and The Dark Plate. The Light Plate represents the contemporary cultivation of the idea of what is “natural” by combining native and non-native plants. In the meadow like display, stiff rods of rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) flanked sweet masses of non-native Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and a shock of deep purple salvia flowed along the edge of the Light Plate as a representation of the Chicago River. The interplay of native and non-native plants made me realize how much they highlight each other and create a more diverse habitat. A prairie, without intense management by fire, weeding or chemical treatment, often becomes overrun by a handful of species. However, an interplanting of species that originated from the area and some that do not, keep each other competing. This way a monoculture is less likely to be achieved and the display remains varied, vibrant and engaging. A little competition seems healthy.

I was inspired by our visit and hope to create displays as poignant as those found at Lurie Garden.

The Allen Centennial Garden and its programs are funded entirely through private support - it receives no state or tuition dollars. To help support the Garden and continue to make our projects and programs possible, please consider a donation.

Tags: UW Students, Garden Display and Design

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Madison WI 53706

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