Our Mission & History
We're glad you are here
Ever have a desire to discover? Ever have a desire to teach others what you've learned? We do - every day. By nature, that’s who we are. We’re the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, an international scientific research and learning center focused on conservation and knowledge sharing. BRIT shares knowledge about the plant world to enhance life for people and all living things. With knowledge comes a sense of care and stewardship for our environment. Plant to Planet®
BRIT’s mission is to conserve our natural heritage by deepening our knowledge of the plant world and achieving public understanding of the value plants bring to life.
Founded in 1987 and based in Fort Worth, BRIT documents the diversity of plant life and conducts extensive research around the world. In the last 10 years, BRIT scientists have located and described scores of species previously unknown to science. Similar to the botanist-explorers of the 18th century, our scientists share the same desires and traits as Sir Joseph Banks, Captain James Cook, and Charles Darwin. We’re adventurous, curious, passionate, independent, and smart. In addition, we are teachers. We are driven to find new plant species and research plant life for agricultural, economic, environmental, medical, and social uses and to share that knowledge in the classroom and the research laboratory.
Current major projects are ongoing around Texas, Oklahoma, and in Southeastern US, as well as in Mexico, Belize, China, and the Philippines.
Significance of BRIT
BRIT supports botanical solutions to address globally challenging problems ranging from pollution clean-up to sustainable food sources. By serving as a think tank and catalyst, BRIT inspires learning and forms interdisciplinary collaborations for critical research within scientific, educational, social, cultural, and business communities.
Our work impacts our community and the world in a number of functional areas including, environment, by giving people a local sense of stewardship; society, by training a new generation of thinkers and problem solvers; and conservation, by offering methods for better stewardship of the land.
2017 BRIT rescues 470,000 plant specimens from the University of Louisiana – Monroe bringing the total number of specimens housed at BRIT to 1.47 million and elevating BRIT’s herbarium to ninth largest in the US.
2017 BRIT signs MOU with the City of Fort Worth partnering with the Fort Worth Botanic Garden to improve and expand education programs for the community.
2017 BRIT signs MOU with University of Texas at Arlington.
2017 BRIT joins the Center of Plant Conservation (CPC) to help lead Texas organizations in protecting and preserving rare and endangered native plants.
2017 BRIT celebrates its 30th anniversary.
2016 BRIT joins American Horticulture Society (AHS) and American Public Gardens Association (APGA).
2016 BRIT and Tarleton State University Sign Agreement Promoting Common Interests and signs BRIT and Tarleton to team on TxDOT plant research.
2015 BRIT Names Dr. Edward Schneider as New President and Executive Director.
2013 BRIT establishes it Urban Youth Field School, later transformed into the Green Revolution, for middle and high school students served through the Morningside Children’s Partnership.
2011 Acquired copies of volumes of the Banks' Florilegium
2011 The BRIT SEED School opened with a classroom, teacher resource center and early childhood “tree house” exploration center through support of the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. The Teacher Tuesday program begins to attract teachers from districts across the region.
2011 Grand opening of new headquarters building to the public - first building in the region to have a “living” roof that is planted with flowering plants of the Fort Worth Prairie variety suitable for this climate.
2010 Atrium, a biodiversity information system is developed with the goal of revolutionizing biodiversity information management by enabling researchers and organizations to share, synthesize, manage, and publish biodiversity data in a collaborative, online environment.
2010 Apiary, an online digital workflow system established that allows humans to quickly and accurately extract the textual data from digital specimen images with the assistance of computer processes such as optical character recognition (OCR).
2010 Establishes the International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing to honor organizations in the wine industry that are taking a leading role in implementing sustainable practices. The awards first recipient is HALL Wines of St Helena, California.
2010 BRIT’s herbarium contains approx. 1,000,000 plant specimens and its botanical library contains approx. 100,000 volumes of books and journals.
2009 Signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Regional Government of Cusco to collaboratively implement new regional conservation areas in one of the most biologically diverse states of Peru. The result was BRIT’s Amazon to Andes Biodiversity Program that researched and published a variety of floras for parts of Peru.
2009 Groundbreaking ceremonies on a new $46 million LEED platinum-certified building in the Fort Worth Cultural District.
2007 Bella the Begonia was introduced as part of BRIT’s Distance Learning Outreach to schools across the nation. Bella became BRIT’s preschool mascot for its early childhood programs in 2011, influencing thousands of children to explore natue through the inspiration of children’s literature.
2003 BRIT acquires the Heber W. Youngken, Jr. Collection of Medicinal Plants (MCP).
2002 BRIT acquires the Dartmouth College (HNH) Herbarium.
2001 The first teachers were awarded the Wendy Owsley Garrett Science Teacher award
2001 BRIT acquires the Houston Public Museum (HPM) herbarium
2000 BRIT Education joins forces with the Fort Worth Botanic Garden to open the first tropical butterfly exhibit and education program in the Garden
2000 The BRIT Distinguished Lecturer Series hosts its most popular series, the Sixth Extinction, bringing in internationally known experts on the urgent issues involving biodiversity conservation.
1999 BRIT Press publishes, “Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.” The first fully illustrated flora for any region of Texas or adjacent states.
1999 BRIT receives its first education endowment and grants from Exxon Mobile to begin a Texas ecosystem expedition program for environmental science teachers and an environmental science youth mentoring program
1997 Vanderbilt University Herbarium (VDB) acquired
1997 The Oliver Burk Memorial Children’s Library is established with a gift of 2,000 children’s books on botany and natural history. BRIT published its first children’s book, Pepe’s Family Reunion.
1995 BRIT receives a grant from the Meadows Foundation to open a learning center and write botany curriculum for elementary schools
1995 BRIT establishes its International Awards of Excellence in Conversation program to honor individuals and organizations whose contributions and leadership best reflect BRIT’s core principles of conservation, sustainability, and wise stewardship of the land.
1993 BRIT hires its first executive director, Dr. S.H. Sohmer.
1987 BRIT incorporates as a non-profit organization to house the Southern Methodist University herbarium, consisting of 450,000 specimens and its botanical library with 75,000 volumes from the personal collections of Lloyd H. Shinners, one of the most influential Texas botanists of the 20th century. BRIT occupies 11,500 square feet on two floors of a turn-of-the-century warehouse in downtown Fort Worth,Texas.