Starting in March 2018, BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden will launch new education and volunteer opportunities as part of an innovative public-private partnership between the institutions. The partnership, signed by the Fort Worth City Council and the BRIT board of directors in the fall of 2017, transfers responsibility for the Garden’s education and volunteer programs to BRIT.
“There’s potential for enormous synergy between BRIT as a scientific and education organization and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden as a municipal garden,” says BRIT Executive Director Ed Schneider.
The organizations, which have shared a campus since 2009, are making use of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of shared responsibility that has grown in popularity in the U.S. and around the globe. It is based on the idea that communities benefit from cooperation between the public and private sector.
Fort Worth has a strong history of successful PPPs that range from developments such as Sundance Square, Dickies Arena, Alliance Development, and Texas Motor Speedway to a partnership between restaurant chains and the Fort Worth ISD that is bringing salad bars to local elementary schools.
While the Garden is wholly owned by the City of Fort Worth and BRIT is a not-for-profit, the two institutions share a mission of educating the community about plants and the natural world. They each bring unique strengths to this mission that can support one another.
Power Through Partnership
Excellence in education is one of BRIT’s strengths that will benefit the Garden, says Garden Director Bob Byers. “It’s a core mission of a botanic garden to educate the public. BRIT will help us do that,” says Byers.
Popular Garden programs, such as Little Sprouts for preschool children, will continue, says BRIT Senior VP and Director of Education Pat Harrison, but will be supplemented with innovative classes, camps, and outdoor experiences BRIT now provides for learners from “K to gray.”
Byers and Harrison want to create education opportunities that get kids into nature. “Children are not benefiting from time in nature in ways they were in the past,” says Harrison. “Our job is to create that connection to the natural world.”
The education partnership also plans to add new adult education programs. Classes will target a wide range of learners, from those seeking introductory awareness of gardening, plant science, or botanical art, to advanced professional and certification programs.
BRIT will also manage the Garden’s volunteer program. A new full-time associate director will work with the current director to create a unified recruitment, training, and management system for both organizations.
Merging existing programs and creating new ones requires listening, notes Harrison. BRIT and the Garden have sought input both from national experts in botanic garden programs and from existing Garden staff as well as the Fort Worth Botanical Society and the Fort Worth Garden Club, two sponsoring organizations headquartered at the Garden.
BRIT and the Garden are on a tight schedule to implement their partnership; new courses will be offered as soon as spring 2018, with a full program of both adult and children’s programs underway next fall.
“By working together, the Garden and BRIT will better serve the residents of Fort Worth—and help the community grow in its understanding and appreciation of the natural world,” says Schneider.
For more information go to: http://www.brit.org/GROW