Paul B. Redman
You may know Longwood Gardens for our spectacular horticulture, our dancing fountains, our invigorating performances and our ever-present beauty … but we’re much more than meets the eye.
From K-12 programs that bring our Gardens into the classroom, to experiential onsite programs for those pursuing a career in horticulture, we are also a place of learning and growth.
Learning has been integral to our mission — to the soul of Longwood — since day one, reflective of our founder Pierre S. du Pont’s desire to establish a school where students and others may receive instruction in horticulture and floriculture. But our commitment to learning goes much farther, with a much deeper impact than you may know.
Today, here at Longwood, we continue our commitment to learning, proudly offering a vibrant, broad and ever-evolving selection of educational programs that deliver on Mr. du Pont’s wishes that we continue as an institution committed to both education and instruction. All of these programs are supported by our earned and contributed revenue (admission and membership revenue, gift shop sales, special events like our Fireworks and Fountains Shows, donations and our endowment.)
Here are just a few:
In 1957, we began offering paid summer residency internships for college and university students — a program that continues today and has impacted more than 2,300 students from more than 80 institutions.
Our K-12 programs expand learning beyond the classroom walls with free, curriculum-based virtual and hands-on offerings including our Virtual Field Trips, which bring our Gardens directly into K-12 classrooms around the world via live interactive video.
This program began in 2009, so when the pandemic reared its head, we had the infrastructure and the expertise to ease the transition to virtual learning across all of our educational programs. In 2020-21 alone, our Virtual Field Trip program reached 23,000 K-12 students worldwide through 462 programs. Again, this program is free to all K-12 participating institutions.
Our Longwood Fellows Program — an immersive, 13-month, paid residential living and working experience borne from the Longwood Graduate Program — focuses on building leadership capacity in public horticulture. Our Fellows come to Longwood to refine their skills, gain pragmatic experience, and learn from other regional and global public horticulture leaders. To date, more than 200 graduates have gone on to leadership positions that are impacting global plant conservation and horticulture around the globe.
Designed for recent high school graduates to those looking to change careers, the two-year, tuition-free Professional Horticulture Program offers the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning alongside our expert staff; our graduates enjoy successful careers in public, private and commercial horticulture, joining a network of Longwood alumni in horticulture positions around the world (more on that later!).
Finally, our Continuing Education program welcomes adult learners to work with experts in the fields of horticulture, floral and landscape design, botanical arts, garden photography, and much more, to simply have fun or to enrich their professional skills.
When I think back on how we’ve been able to keep the learning going for more than 50 years, one very special occasion — that’s actually been in the works since 1970 —comes to mind.
In 1970, Longwood founded the two-year, tuition-free Professional Gardener Training Program (now the Professional Horticulture Program) to help fulfill Mr. du Pont’s wish for a practical school of horticulture and floriculture at Longwood. And, now more than 50 years later, it continues to do just that … and so much more.
On October 16, 2021, we were thrilled to welcome 120 Professional Horticulture Program alumni — including a student from the very first class — back to our Gardens for our Professional Gardener Alumni Association 50th Anniversary Celebration at Longwood.
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During that very special occasion, our alumni —a network of 327 graduates making a real difference in horticulture — shared their stories and successes since their time here at Longwood, as part of this legacy, immersive program that combines hands-on learning and high-level coursework.
Of these 327 graduates, 26 worked, or continue to work, here at Longwood. Many work at other public gardens as leaders in horticulture. Others have become entrepreneurs as landscape designers, landscape architects and consultants, as well as leaders in commercial greenhouse and nursery production or other commercial horticultural industries. Some have become educators themselves. Our graduates, however, are much more than a professional network.
They’re friends. They’re leaders. They’re family. They’re changing the future.
Paul B. Redman is President and CEO of Longwood Gardens.