Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
University Affiliation Reaps Results
Last fall a group of Austin-area landscape designers and architects gathered in a conference room at the University of Texas at Austin Office of Public Affairs. Joining them were a number of Wildflower Center staff who were seeking advice and feedback about the Center's online database of information about native plants. University staff led this focus group in an exercise that yielded some surprising - and some not-so-surprising - opinions and suggestions for making the database more useful. We took the group's advice to heart and went back to the website drawing cubicle.
Starting this month, visitors to the "Explore Plants" section of the Center's website (www.wildflower.org) will now find it much easier and faster to get the information they need about native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. Landscape designers, in particular, will find the information presented in a more compelling way that directly addresses their needs.
This is only one of the ways in which the Wildflower Center's recent status as a part of the university is already reaping benefits for the Center and its programs. In only a few months, the Center's staff has become engaged with university biologists, landscape architects, sustainable-design experts and many others. We expect that UT students soon will become involved in the Center's on-site land-restoration research projects, seed banking and other plant conservation activities. We are pursuing exciting opportunities for collaboration with university experts in sustainable building and land planning to promote the use of native plants that can minimize ecological harm.
The Center's efforts to train teachers will get a strong boost from our association with the university's innovative "U Teach" program, which involves future teachers in science-based research. By strengthening our curriculum to reflect state public education standards, we hope to provide teachers with the information they need to inspire their students' appreciation of the plant life around them. For others, the Center has launched an integrated series of native plant horticulture classes collectively known as Go Native U. Go Native U is promoted and managed through UT's popular Informal Classes program.
While we've experienced a few administrative challenges in making the transition to academic life, we are gratified by the tremendous enthusiasm shown by university leadership and faculty for the Wildflower Center's work. This new partnership gives us access to powerful resources and tools for advancing the Center's mission. Our goal in 2007 is to make the most of them.
- Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director