By Derek Lirange

I have been looking forward to this training all summer, the opportunity for our Young Adult Foresters (YAFs) to come and experience work at Tower Hill. Most of them have visited the garden before but it was an eye-opening experience and opportunity to see the garden from a new perspective, the perspective of the people who make Tower Hill Botanic Garden the beautiful place we all know and love, the Horticulture team. They got to visit the beautiful grounds and be part of the process of maintaining and beautifying it.

The horticulture team embraced the opportunity to receive help from our YAFs and we are pleased to say that the YAFs kept up. Each one got to experience something a little different, from the naturalized gardens and wildlife pond, to the cottage garden and lawn spaces. They saw that even the green space around the parking lot are treated as an important part of the garden.

As you would expect at any garden or green space in the middle of summer there was some weeding to do in each of the spaces they worked in, but our staff also had the opportunity to plant, edge garden beds, and sew seeds for next year. But best of all was that each YAF was able to get to know and learn from a horticulture staff person who loves working at the Garden and could share some of that passion with them.

Naturally, no trip to Tower Hill is complete without a tour. After a few hours of work we paused to show off the many wonderful things Tower Hill has to offer and let them show each other what they had done. Some of the favorites were the Belvidere with it’s lookout onto Mount Wachusett and the beautiful new shade garden among the wooded trails which lead to the mossy steps.

This was definitely a favorite among the YAFs for our summer training opportunities. In this one trip I think our YAFs became completely convinced  of at least two things. One, that they have to come back to visit Tower Hill as often as possible. And two, that gardening is awesome, and an awesome job that entails more than they ever expected.

And that has been the hope for all of the training sessions this summer; to show the breadth of work available in the fields of arboriculture and horticulture. From private companies to non profits, from our municipal government all the way up to the federal government, and from woodlands to city streets, there are thousands and thousands of careers available caring for plants and our environment. And having seen these opportunities I believe that we can count on some of our YAFs becoming future arborists and horticulturists.