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The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation



Notes from FLBGF’s Board President and Executive Director In my short period of time as President at the Foundation, I have gained an appreciation of the diversity of experience, talent and knowledge that is brought to bear on the operation of our Florida Botanical Gardens. The work of our Board and volunteers, County park rangers and staff, University of Florida Extension Service staff, and Master Gardeners all contribute in collaborative effort to make the Gardens a special place to be enjoyed by the Pinellas community and visitors from around the world. The number of volunteer hours provided of 23,226 is astonishing and more are needed to continue to improve this county park. The Holiday Lights alone has benefited from the thousands of hours of work from more than 200 volunteers! The success of this event as the Foundation’s major fundraiser will allow us to advance a number of new projects and necessary upgrades to the Garden infrastructure in 2018 and beyond. One of the most important projects commencing in 2018 is a Master Plan. We have engaged the firm of David Sacks Landscape Architects to lead the planning and conceptual design work which will focus on setting a vision for the future and revitalization of select areas within the Gardens. The Master Plan will involve solicitation of ideas and input from various shareholders and Foundation membership. We are proud of what has been accomplished at the FBG and excited about the opportunities for the future. John E. Thomas, Sr. President, Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation 2017 was a year involving lots of change for the Foundation and many of those changes have put us on new road toward the future. Of course one of the first was that the Board decided to try having a paid Executive Director, and we are nine months into this joint venture. Another major change has involved our stepping back from a lot of the day-to-day landscape management by working with the Parks Department to hire a full-time horticulturist who has taken on this mantle of responsibility. We also have had a change in Board officers, so we enter the new year with a new landscape from which to continue the growth and development of the Florida Botanical Gardens. I hope that you will become more than members and get involved with us in many of the things required to make our Botanical Gardens world-class. We have started to expand our various Board committees to take on part of this work. For instance, our Education Committee will be working to help develop our Interpretive Master Plan which will help us to tell others all about our Garden and all of the things that are included. Our Development Committee will be looking at new ways to get people to join us on exciting new projects like the Wetlands Walkway and Wildlife Overlook. Our Marketing & Membership Committees are looking at new and exciting programming opportunities to increase the value of your membership. Lastly, there are other activities in the wings waiting for us to find and engage enthusiastic volunteers to make them soar. The exciting thing about writing for this annual report is that we are an organization which is on very solid footing in a number of ways, including financially. To make FBG into the premier destination it deserves to be will require a tremendous amount of additional resources, people, finances, advocacy and so much more. So as you read through this report, please read it with the mindset of how you can help us get there. We are excited about the future and encourage you to be more than silent partners. Vernon Bryant Executive Director, Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation


Holiday Lights in the Garden Early in the inception of the Gardens, it was planned to include a holiday light display during the winter holiday season. The official opening of the Gardens in December of 2000 included the very first Holiday Light display. In 2008, due to the downturn of the economy and reductions in County staffing, the Foundation was asked to take on the Holiday Lights to save the event from permanently ending.

YEAR 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

ATTENDANCE 51,195 42,158 60,290 78,867 69,629 67,221 74,417 78,047 95,810

GROSS RECEIPTS $70,000 $79,669 $94,660 $128,987 $127,670 $220,541 $261,653 $271,373 $325,005

Under Foundation management, the event was saved and has continued to soar in quality and appeal. The Foundation first asked for a voluntary donation from visitors in 2008. Over the ensuing years, these small donations have generated sufficient income, putting the Foundation on a firm financial basis andgenerating significant funding that has been used for maintaining, updating and enhancing the Gardens. 2017 has proven to be a stellar year, and we are excited about our success and are looking forward to 2018.

We must also express our gratitude to all of the volunteers that helped to make this happen, starting with our Board, many of whom spent countless hours doing all of the behind-thescenes tasks that helped the event run so well, and also to our over 200 nightly volunteers who greeted our guests, accepted their donations, gave information and directions, provided entertainment and became the face of the Gardens for our over 95,000 guests in 2017. In order to continue our success we need all types of help, and if you are interested in helping to plan and implement the 2018 event, please send your name and contact information to You can also send your thoughts and comments about the 2017 event to that same e-mail address.


Projects Around the Garden The funds raised by the Holiday Lights allowed the Foundation to pay for a number of significant maintenance projects including: repainting all the structures and walls in the Garden, replacing several trellises with aluminum rather than wood, and evaluating the irrigation system. Additionally, the Lights provided the resources to commence the design and permitting of the Wetland Walkway and Wildlife Overlook project, which will connect the dead-end walks at the Vinery to the Boardwalk at the Tree Station. Thousands of annual plants were replaced to provide color and enhance the visitor experience. Volunteer work has been instrumental in maintaining and improving the existing Garden areas. The Native Plant, Herb, and Butterfly Gardens that surround the Extension Services building all receive weekly attention from dedicated volunteers. East of McKay Creek, the Cactus and Succulent Garden, which includes a remarkable display of drought-tolerant plants, has been completed. The roses and topiary in the Wedding Garden have benefited from the detailed care and attention provided by volunteers. The Master Plan process will include evaluation of the McKay Creek Plaza, south entry to the Extension Building, signage throughout the property and other work to revitalize select areas in the Gardens. A Children’s Playground and Garden is also one of the potential Garden projects that will be considered.


Keep an Eye Out for These Faces in the Garden VERNON BRYANT Vernon Bryant rejoined the Florida Botanical Gardens team in March of 2017 as the new part-time Executive Director for the Foundation. He originally came to Pinellas County in 1998 to help drive the development of our Florida Botanical Gardens and served as Horticulture Manager during the early years of the Gardens. His background includes degrees in botany, horticulture, and public administration. He previously worked with Illinois Extension and the Chicago Botanic Gardens where he was involved with inner-city horticulture education and community gardening for more than 20 years. He also spent the last five years as the Branch Executive Director of the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA before joining the Foundation. One of his major job responsibilities with FBGF is to oversee the annual Holiday Lights at the Gardens event. Everyone should know that this is our primary fundraising event and is also our biggest resource investment, both monetary and human. The 2017 event was a great success due to the Foundation’s leadership and the additional support provided by the new Executive Director. He has also worked in the last year to improve the work of the Board and its committees. In addition, he is a great representative for the Gardens and has done a number of radio and TV appearances promoting the Gardens and our programming. The hiring of an Executive Director is uncharted waters for the Board and we are still working through many aspects of the relationship. We are happy that with Vernon we have a solid person on which to build for the future.


Back Row, L to R: Bill Deguerre, Richard Berube, Robert Fles, Richard Oelette Front Row: Terry Berube, Linda Wright, Ellen King, Eloise Lang


L to R: Frank Heron, Emma Eshbaugh, Carol Marshall, Carol Schwartz, Anne St. George, Mary Hoffman

Students Help in the Garden The Gardens have been fortunate to have students from the Pinellas County Schools Extended Transition Class Program on our campus. These students are learning skills to improve their job readiness. In addition to working at Heritage Village, they have made important contributions to various projects at the Gardens, such as providing desperately needed physical labor for Hurricane Irma clean-up. In 2017, the group of 12 enthusiastic students has also provided manpower to: 1. ADVANCE THE WETLANDS WALKWAY AND WILDLIFE OVERLOOK PROJECT by removing invasive plants, collecting debris and clearing the boardwalk and walkways corridor. 2. IMPROVE THE AESTHETICS OF THE AREA used for the Annual Gift & Plant Sale by pruning palmettos and weeding. 3. REMOVE FALLEN TREE LIMBS AND DEBRIS from the natural areas surrounding the Formal Gardens. We extend our warmest words of appreciation to Russell and crew for all of your hard work.

“This is a win-win for our class and the Garden, and we are very thankful that you provide us with fertile soil where boys grow into men.” - Russell Neaman

“I am amazed at how much work the student team accomplishes in a short period of time.” - John Thomas


Cleaning Up After Irma Irma was devastating for the trees in the Garden. We lost a number of unique specimen trees including the Christmas ornament tree, shaving brush tree and Queensland bottle tree. Many of the deciduous trees in the garden had broken limbs, while nearly every palm lost fronds to the wind. Cypress trees and many shrubs experienced desiccated foliage. The Garden was closed for one week while Pinellas County tree crews and Garden volunteers cleared the pathways and removed hazardous broken limbs. The major clean-up continued for six weeks with the goal to enable the lights to be installed in mid-October. Students from Pinellas County Schools were instrumental in removing fallen limbs and debris throughout the Garden property and the adjacent Heritage Village. A FEMA tree crew also contributed to the work effort with a bucket truck and chainsaw crew to remove high hanging limbs. Many trees that were toppled were able to be reset to an upright position. Clean-up on the periphery of the tropical planting areas and specialty gardens continued through November. Overall, the Garden has begun to heal in the Florida sunshine.

Fiddle Leaf Fig before (below) and after (right)


FY 2017 Financial Summary October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2017 All expenditures are for Florida Botanical Gardens related projects and activities including contractors to repaint the Gardens and install our Holiday Lights; landscape architects used for our Wildlife Walkway Project; new plants & garden supplies; new tropical Courtyard trellis; and event related expenses such as caterers, security, signage and marketing.

INCOME Unrestricted Donations





Gift Shop and Events


21,670 93,583

In-kind Donations

107,583 93,583




21,670 51,445



Payroll & Fringe


Contract Services


Professional and Insurance


Plants and Garden Supplies


Operating Expenses*


146,380 147,650 68,752



*includes in-kind advertising 29,128

Unrestricted Net Assets Available as of 10/1/16: $942,245 Unrestricted Net Assets Available as of 9/30/17:$1,038,840 Fiscal Year Change: $96,595 FY2017 ANNUAL REPORT | 8

Thank You to Our Volunteers and Donors The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation is a volunteer-led and managed membership organization. The Foundation relies on volunteers to meet its ongoing programming needs. Our volunteers are also Pinellas County V.I.P.s and enjoy the benefits of being members of that team as well. We encourage our members to become volunteers and there are great opportunities available for involvement, no matter what your skills or interests are. In 2018, we need volunteers to serve on our Board and committees, handle basic clerical activities, work in the gift shop, lead tours, engrave plant labels, document our collections, help with Holiday Lights, and so much more. If you want to volunteer, contact our office at 727-582-2117 or e-mail us at Let us know your interests and availability and we will get you plugged in to help make the future of our Gardens even brighter.

2016/2017 VOLUNTEER HOURS Gift Shop 1591 Hours Foundation Board 6168 Hours Landscape 6729 Hours 2016 Holiday Lights 3090 Hours 2017 Holiday Lights 5648 Hours Total Hours 23,226

$1,000 to $4,999 Terry & Richard Berube Dr. David & Pat Dieterich David & Emma Eshbaugh Vivian Haicken Betsy, Karly, Eric Schweitzer in honor of Barry and Vivian Haicken John & Mary Sweeny John & Kathleen Thomas Kelli & Wes Winsor Terri & Lane Ziegler Florida Cancer Specialists $500 - $999 Tim & Gail Anderson Sue & Dr. Rob Hamill Ray & Carol Marshall Nick Shriver Marjorie Sturges Belleair Pool - Jean Oxley Denys & Robert Walk YourCause Duke Energy


$100 - $499 Dennis & Cathey Aubin Dan Beaver Lisa Boing (in kind) Rosa & Horst Blumberg Vernon & Letitia Bryant Hugh Burton Donald Culbertson Carolyn Fishback Mr. & Mrs. Larry Genskow Alison Hall Denise Hawks & Anthony LaVelle Amber Hollingsworth Debra & Dan Kramer Dr. Bernard Krause Roger Laferriere Chonwan Olmsted The Vermazen Family Linda & Doug Wright Dunedin Garden Club Garden Club of St. Petersburg Gassman, Crotty & Denicolo, PA Nature’s Food Patch Pinellas Chapter Florida Native Plant Society St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Society

Meet Your FLBG Foundation Board Members JOHN THOMAS President RICHARD BERUBE Vice-President DAN BEAVER Treasurer EMMA ESHBAUGH Secretary LISA BOING Board Member PAT DIETERICH Board Member BARBARA GOSS Board Member VIVIAN HAICKEN Board Member RAY MARSHALL Board Member JIM SCHANZ Board Member MARY SWEENY Board Member VERNON BRYANT Executive Director SPENCER CURTIS Parks Dept Liaison PAUL COZZIE Parks Dept Bureau Chief JP GELLERMANN Extension Service Director WANDA MCKAY Historical Society Liaison DAVID C. BASSETT New Board Member David C. Bassett is a retired local dentist who was raised, educated and practiced locally. He states that his wife, Linda “is his biggest asset.” They will celebrate 50 years of marriage in June of this year. David’s volunteering includes the Homeless Empowerment Project in Clearwater, where he provides care in their Dental Clinic, at Heritage Village in conjunction with the Largo Area Historical Society and at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Because of his interest in succulents (cacti and relatives) he become impressed with the value the Gardens provide as a place of solace and education for the community. His desire now is to work with the committed people he has met here and be part of our efforts to create a world-class point of interest. He has been a one-man force in the creation of the Succulent Garden here at the Gardens and continues to work to find and bring specimen plants here to enhance the growing collection. JODI PATZER New Board Member Jodi Patzer is an effective, well-trained strategic leader actively engaged in supporting the community. She recently moved to Pinellas County from Wisconsin and is thrilled to join the FLBGF Board to help support the Gardens. Over the years, Jodi has volunteered for many non-profit organizations and has a wealth of experience working as a media planning professional at world-renowned

and niche boutique advertising agencies. As a media planner, Jodi worked with BASF and Sandoz Crop Protection and with Stein’s Garden & Home. Plus, she served as a Marketing Intern for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture while attending the University of Wisconsin. Prior to moving to Florida, Jodi actively supported the Junior League of Milwaukee, Rock the Green, and the South Shore Garden Club in Bayview, Wisconsin along with many other charitable organizations. DAVID LAWRENCE New Board Member For over twenty years, David Lawrence has traveled the world photographing transportation, aviation, infrastructure, architecture and environmental projects. His curiosity is fueled by a degree in environmental biology and extensive travel on assignment. Ever evolving, David’s photographic career has journeyed from the world of corporate clients and international picture agencies to creating murals and artwork from his personal image collection, from being published on the covers of Time Magazine, Business Week and annual report covers for McDonald’s and URS, to more recently having murals and wall art installed in hospitals, embassies and corporate boardrooms. David is a member of the North American Nature Photography Association, the American Society of Media Photographers, National Press Photographers Association, The Professional Association of Visual Artists and The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation. NANCY HALVORSEN New Board Member Nancy Halvorsen has been a resident of Pinellas County since 1968. Nancy began her involvement with the Florida Botanical Gardens after becoming a Master Gardener in 2012 and served on the Foundation Board from 2012 to 2013. Nancy‘s career focused on Geographic Information Systems for both private and public organizations for 35 years. Nancy is currently employed by Pinellas County Business Technology Services, working for the Enterprise Architecture department facilitating Enterprise Portfolio Management. Nancy rejoined the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation Board in June 2017. She lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida.



February 10: 9 am - 12pm FBGF members welcome FBGF members are invited to buy orchids at this FWCOS members-only sale. Come early to get the best selection! Enter at the 12211 Walsingham Entrance and the sale will be located in the South Parking Lot.


February 14: 2pm You are invited to be a witness as 50 couples recite their wedding vows at the Florida Botanical Gardens.


March 31: 9am - 12pm It’s the time of year when you shold be repotting your orchids. The Orchid Society will be available to re-pot your orchids and provide you with information on orchid culture.


May 1: 6pm Join us for a evening in the Gardens with light refreshments and the opportunity to hear about the updated Master Plan, help dedicate the new Wetlands Walkway & Wildlife Overlook, and learn about the 2018 Holiday Lights in the Gardens. There will also be information about volunteering at the Gardens and how you can help FBG continue toward our goal of being a premier Botanical Garden.


May 6: 10am - 4pm The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation invites you to step “beyond the garden gates” into the verdant wonderlands of several private homeowners and the Florida Botanical Gardens, all located in Pinellas County.


October 28: 12pm - 4pm Bring the kids to the Gardens, pick out a pumpkin, carve it together, and take it home in time for Halloween. There will be lots of additional activities, including cooking demonstrations with what else: pumpkin!


Date TBD Just in time for Christmas, enjoy a day of shopping in the Gardens featuring a number of nature-focused gift, craft, and plant vendors.


November 23 - December 30: 5:30pm - 9:30pm nightly The Gardens will once again be bedecked in over a million LED lights. Come out and see many of our traditional favorites, like the snowman family, as well as our new items all while celebrating the season. We are also looking for community entertainers to perform.


Make a Plan to Amplify Your Impact •

You can support our efforts by making a meaningful contribution to the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation or by sponsoring an event or program here. Your contribution enables the Foundation to continue to provide support to the Florida Botanical Gardens and also to provide meaningful activities and education to our members and everyone that visits our gem of a Garden.

If you would like to extend your support of the Florida Botanical Gardens through FBGF to make a lasting impact, there are other gift arrangements that may be explored. By planning a gift from your estate, you can make a bigger impact than you may have thought possible. Anyone can do it. Whether you would like to put your donation to work today or benefit us after your lifetime, we can work with you to create a charitable plan that lets you provide for your family and support the Gardens.

You can make your gift online at or through offices at: The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc., 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo FL 33774.


Profile for Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation

Annual Report FY 2017  

Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017.

Annual Report FY 2017  

Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017.