March 2022

by Tomoko Kuta, Senior Director for Education, Memership and Visitor Services

SDBG Expands Access to More Diverse Audiences through Federal Grant

Last month, San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG) launched Access Afternoons, a community outreach program that welcomes new audiences to the Garden through funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under their grant program, American Rescue Plan for Museums and Libraries. Recognizing the Garden’s role as a trusted community space for supporting mental health, wellbeing, and healing, the program provides free, regularly-scheduled Garden visits to populations who have suffered during the pandemic from isolation, resource scarcity, or economic hardship. 

SDBG is implementing the project in partnership with five San Diego County social services agencies: Alzheimer’s San Diego, Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito, City of Encinitas, Community Resource Center, and United Service Organizations. Access Afternoons supports San Diego’s pandemic recovery effort by serving diverse, sensitive, and underserved populations. Working with each partner to tailor programming to a specific group or audience, the program celebrates the community-based approach as foundational to its success. SDBG is working closely with each of its five partner organizations to translate audience-specific expertise into training for the Garden staff and volunteers who function as program facilitators. By tailoring activities to each group that visits, the project aims to provide support for the diverse educational, economic, mobility, diversity, mental health, and age-related needs and interests of the community.  

“Alzheimer’s San Diego clients and their care partners are enjoying safe outdoor activities at the Garden, which has been a relief from all of the restrictions that they’ve been living with due to COVID-19,” said Adrianna McCollum, Director of Social Programs & Volunteers, Alzheimer’s San Diego. “We love seeing how participants are enjoying their time together at the Garden with new SDBG staff and volunteer friends. The planned activities are providing multi-sensory experiences that are recalling many fond memories.”

IMLS supports approximately 50% of this program’s costs through an award of $39,650. The remaining 50% of the project is funded by non-governmental sources including admissions and membership revenue. The project runs through October 2022. While SDBG is unable to work with additional organizations or audiences under this program, it continues to look for opportunities to partner with community groups for future programming.

Adult Programming Includes Exciting New Classes

Each month, SDBG provides new ways for community members to enjoy the Garden, acquire new skills, and spend time together. The Garden’s offering of in-person adult classes touches upon health and well-being, the natural world, and creativity. Enjoy three different types of outdoor yoga classes as well as Pilates surrounded by our lush plantings or take a walk with a dedicated group of bird enthusiasts on our once-a-month exploration. Each month provides different ways to connect with plants and learn at the Garden with fellow participants and trained instructors.

School Field Trips for Educators and Students

Spring has traditionally been a busy time for the Garden with students visiting on fieldtrips. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are loosening up, SDBG is receiving requests for group visits. The Garden provides engaging and standards-based hands-on activities for students, as well as guided general tours. Current programs feature Plant Adaptation for grades 1-4 and Pollinators and Climate Change Challenge (virtual and onsite) for grades 2-5 from April through June (for Title 1 schools thanks to the support of SDG&E Environmental Champions Initiative). We are thrilled to support area educators and foster the development of future stewards of the earth.

SAPlinGS: Science, Art, and Play in Garden Spaces

Did you know that SDBG has three children’s gardens each with unique layouts and features? Our largest kid-friendly area is the Hamilton Children’s Garden located close to the main entrance and features programming specially designed for young children Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. Explore crafts, gardening, music and so much more from 10am to 12pm. Just head to the Hamilton Children’s Garden after going through the Welcome Center to join other families in the fun and learning!