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MONTHLY MEETING: The 21st Century Botanic Garden

Join us on Monday, May 13 to hear Dr. Ari Novy, President and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG), address the future of the 21st century botanic garden in San Diego and beyond.

Dr. Novy began his new role at SDBG last October. Prior to his appointment at SDBG, he was Chief Scientist at the Leichtag Foundation in San Diego. Before that, he served as Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of the oldest, most prominent and most visited gardens in North America. He has written widely on the role of botanic gardens; recent relevant publications include “The world is a garden and we’re all its gardeners,” “The role of botanic gardens in the twenty-first century,” and “Expanding the role of botanic gardens in the future of food.”

The role of botanic gardens is changing. According to an article Dr. Novy recently co-authored in CAB Reviews, “During the second half of the twentieth century, importance [in botanic gardens] was placed on the need for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In the twenty-first century, botanic gardens are challenged to address issues that extend beyond the garden walls by placing social and environmental responsibility as key mission drivers.” While at the U.S. Botanic Garden, he sought to meet this challenge in a variety of ways, overseeing the renovation of the Garden’s historic Bartholdi Park, producing original botanically themed theater, and welcoming over 1.2 million visitors per year. He also re-established botanical collection expeditions for the first time since the 1850s.

Bartholdi Park Fountain, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Novy is a plant biologist with degrees from New York University and Rutgers University. He remains an active researcher, holding research appointments at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC and the University of California, San Diego. He currently serves on the boards of the Cornell Alliance for Science, Botanic Garden Conservation International-US, Live It Learn It (a Washington, DC based experiential learning non-profit focusing on Title 1 schoolchildren) and the Friends of the U.S. Botanic Garden, and he is currently an Environmental Commissioner of the City of Encinitas.

Join us on May 13 to hear what the future may have in store for our own San Diego Botanic Gardens and other botanic gardens across the country. The evening starts at 6:00 PM at Congregation Beth Israel. Admission is free for SDHS members and $15 for non-members. Parking is free. For more information, call (619) 296-9215 or visit

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