Betty Ford Alpine Gardens thanks those who help it bloom
VAIL, Colorado Americas highest botanical garden honored its loyal legion of volunteers on Tuesday.At its annual Volunteer Luncheon held this year at Da Vincis restaurant at the Vail Plaza Hotel and Spa Betty Ford Alpine Gardens toasted 40 Vail Valley locals, whose 2,120 hours of hard work since spring has helped make 2008 the nonprofit organizations best year ever.Thank you to each one of you for your precious gift of time and talent. I think what you all offer the Gardens is priceless, Executive Director Ann Kurronen told the volunteers. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens continues to thrive, in large part, due to your willingness to generously give of yourself to our organization.At 8,250 feet above sea level, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is the highest botanical garden in the United States, and perhaps the world, providing free access to an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. Its mission is to inspire passion for plants in high-altitude communities through beautification, conservation, education and research programs.Based on Bureau of Labor statistics that put the value of an American volunteer hour at $19.51, the volunteers collective 2,120 hours logged this years translates to roughly $42,000, Kurronen said. Most of those hours were spent working in the Schoolhouse gift shop, leading public tours and assisting with special events.Kurronen, in her second year as executive director of the Gardens, outlined the organizations various successes so far in 2008 the nonprofits 20th anniversary season all of which depend on volunteers: Being featured in an episode of the GardenSMART television series, to be broadcast nationally on PBS. In its 10th season, the show travels the country visiting astounding public, private and resort gardens through the eyes of expert local guest gardeners, who share their knowledge and gardening experiences with a wide range of practical, helpful advice. Hosting 400 third-graders at the Butterfly Launch in May. Kicking off the 20th-anniversary season with Bells & Butterflies, a family event, followed in the evening by the naming of Vails newest street, Betty Ford Way. Organizing 30 presentations by artists, musicians and a yoga instructor. Collaborating with other nonprofits, such as Vails Arts in Public Places committee, the Vail Jazz Foundation, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Vail Symposium and the Gore Range Natural Science School. Hosting 220 people at the Spirit of Betty Ford Award, honoring longtime Vail resident Marty Head. Assisting with the annual Cordillera Home Tour, for which the Gardens is a beneficiary. Promoting the Gardens at many of Vails weekly Vail Farmers Markets. Offering weekly childrens programs to about 250 local kids. Providing horticulture therapy to several community groups and the general public. Leading more than 40 public tours and 18 private tours. Hosting 12 weddings.Also of significant note are 800 hours of bending, kneeling, digging and weeding were put in by our volunteers to keep our Gardens beautiful for thousands of visitors to enjoy, Kurronen said. We received many comments from locals and returning visitors that the Gardens looked especially lovely this year.A portion of Tuesdays luncheon was dedicated to remembering longtime volunteer Patsy Hunter, who passed away earlier this year.The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens always is looking for more volunteers. The work is typically scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays, but other hours can be arranged for those who want to help.The Gardens is a nonprofit organization for which operations and programs are funded entirely by donations. For more information, call 970-476-0103 or visit http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org.
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