What is the Tower Hill Botanic Garden annual meeting all about?

By Ali Kane
Tower Hill staff

When you attend the Annual Meeting of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, the parent organization of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, you are participating in a tradition that is more than 175 years old. 

When the Worcester County Horticultural Society was formally incorporated in the 1840s, it welcomed any member to join the organization for dues of $1. Members were individuals from throughout Worcester County who were interested in the development of the young organization “for the purpose of advancing the science and improving the practice of Horticulture.”  

Throughout its infancy, the members of the organization would vote on major decisions of the organization, including electing trustees. As is still true today, the board of trustees is entrusted with the well-being of the Society, legally referred to as “fiduciary responsibility.” All nonprofit boards have this expectation. 

Former Worcester County Horticultural Society headquarters on Elm Street in Worcester.

Trustees are similar to senators as the members must vote to approve each trustee who will represent the best interests of the members for their term of service. At the 2018 Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 15, members will vote to approve six new trustees: David Boeri; Mike Machnowski; Liz Myska; Pat Gray; Diane Robbins; and Kent dur Russell. They will add to the leadership of the Garden, contributing their experience and passion to the board for a three-year term. 

Members also vote on additions to the bylaws, the governing document which outlines the responsibilities of the board of trustees. Bylaws are a living document, changing as the organization grows. This year, there are a few changes and amendments to the bylaws to allow for trustee leaves of absence, modernize the language of “Emeriti” and “Honorary” trustees, and restructuring the board committees. 

While other nonprofit organizations and museums offer memberships to their visitors, not all of them are legal members of an organization. A membership to Tower Hill Botanic Garden is unique because members have voting rights at the Annual Meeting in addition to general admission privileges and other benefits.

As the Worcester County Horticultural Society grew through the 19th and 20th Centuries, eventually opening Tower Hill Botanic Garden in 1986, it continued to extend voting rights to its members. In fact the bylaws continue to stipulate that “member shall be open to every person who supports the purposes of the Society and to every organization which supports the purposes of the Society.” This showcases how important members are to our organization as it continues to transform and grow into the future.  

WCHS President Jim Karadimos speaks at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

At current Tower Hill Annual Meetings, members can not only expect to participate in these important votes, but also hear from the Garden leadership about the business operations from the past year. This year, the meeting will culminate with a presentation by Rodney Eason, CEO of the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve. 

Register for the Annual Meeting, read more about the trustee nominations and bylaw changes, and learn about our guest presenter, Rodney Eason, on our Annual Meeting website.

More about the founding of the Worcester County Horticultural Society can be found in over 150 years of transactions on our website.