Crosby Arboretum has new director

Published 5:29 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

After a brief period of double tasking by current staff, the Crosby Arboretum has new director, Janine Conklin.

Conklin is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and has a doctorate in horticulture. She studied invasive plant species, their cultivars and also learned about seed germination, viability, production and risk assessment.

Even though this is her first position as an arboretum director, she has had experience working in arboretums while in college. Conklin said she gained experience at the Dawes Arboretum and Holden Arboretum, both in Ohio, and also Longwood Gardens in her home state of Pennsylvania.

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Conklin took over the duties of Crosby Arboretum Director in July of this year. She is also the president of the Mississippi National Plant Society.

While the plants up north may have some difference from Mississippi’s southern region, Conklin said the work is very similar, especially since there are several species of plants native to both the north and south.

As for life in the south, she said she enjoys the temperate climate and the friendly, hardworking people.

Conklin has several plans for the arboretum. In the short term, she hopes to be able to use survey information she gathered at the recent street fair and Piney Wood Heritage Festival to establish educational programs and activities visitors will enjoy. The information in those surveys will be used to hold workshops and symposiums she believes people will be interested in attending.

Grants are also an important part of the arboretum’s funding, and Conklin said she is working hard to apply for and secure grants that will help make the arboretum better. One such grant, if approved, will enable the arboretum to purchase labels for its plants. These labels will be different from the signs that currently identify some plant species. These labels will be attached to the plant in a conspicuous location and will include the plant’s scientific and common name. That information will allow visitors to learn more about those plants.

She has been hard at work creating new brochures and posters for the arboretum. The brochures inform prospective visitors about the arboretum, while the posters inform visitors about the arboretum’s features and provides their location on the grounds.

Fund raisers also are on her agenda. Those funds will be used to build the long awaited education center. One such event has taken place already, the silent auction at the recent Piney Woods Heritage Festival. That event raised about $600. Another fund-raising event is planned for March 13, the Jean Chisholm Lindsey Lecture Series.

Work on a new exhibit will begin this spring. Planning work on the attraction, called the Gumpond exhibit, will be conducted by an intern. Construction of the exhibit will be conducted by a separate crew. The exhibit’s expected completion date is in the fall of 2010.

“There’s so many things I’d like to do but only so much time to do them,” Conklin said.

Long term Conklin hopes to expand on the arboretum’s research topics, continue with her grant writing, update the arboretum’s Web site and work toward the construction of the new education center.