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Connecting visitors with your plants and gardens: Botanic Gardens Engagement Network Julia Watson, Education and Partnerships Co-ordinator, Auckland Botanic Gardens Need help with ideas for engaging with your visitors? Looking for inspiration for making your visitors’ experience fun and interesting? The Botanic Gardens Engagement Network (BGEN) is here to help. We are a group of botanic gardens professionals who work in the engagement space, and love to share ideas and resources. Find out more about us in this edition, and in future magazine editions we’ll share new tips, research and resources to help you engage with your visitors.

What is BGEN? BGEN is a professional development network for botanic gardens staff and volunteers who work in all areas such as: engaging visitors with plant collections, garden signage and interpretation, events, education, volunteering, visitor services, community engagement and outreach, as well as layering of information to communicate key garden and collection messages. We support sharing and collaboration between botanic gardens and facilitate the exchange of innovative practices, research and evaluation.

How can I connect with BGEN? Our primary platform is an online blog ( where we share resources, ideas and best practices. We also run workshops at BGANZ congresses and regionally. Check out the range of resources we currently have on the blog and follow the blog for regular updates.

Who can join BGEN? Any members of BGANZ who work in the above areas and would like to be involved can join BGEN.

Who coordinates BGEN? BGEN is coordinated by a convenor, a secretary, and up to six representatives from Australia and New Zealand. The current convenor is Julia Watson (Education and Partnerships Coordinator at the Auckland Botanic Gardens) and secretary is Michael Connor (Coordinator of Education at Wollongong Botanic Garden). Current representatives are Aaron Harrison (Education Coordinator at the Botanic Gardens of South Australia), Ngaire Gilligan (Education and Interpretation Coordinator, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha) and Vicki Lee-Bower (Visitor Experience Coordinator at



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