Wednesday, June 26, 2013


On my first day as a volunteer docent at the stunning Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I had the pleasure of meeting the Garden's President Emeritus, Betty Scholtz.

Bette, who has been with the BBG for 53 years, has her own office there and is still carrying on good and important work.

While eating lunch together in the staff dining room, Bette told me wonderful stories of her history both at the BBG and as a resident of Brooklyn. 

She's the kind of person I want to be both now and at her age:  sharp as a tack, vibrant, and totally dedicated to providing positive experiences for young people in the natural environment.

When I went to take this photo of her during her coffee break, she raised her mug and brightly exclaimed "Cheers!"

Here's some info the BBG shared about Bette on the 50th anniversary of her time there:

On November 29, 2010, Elizabeth Scholtz, BBG's Director Emeritus, celebrated 50 years of outstanding service to the Garden. For half a century, Betty has been a vital resource for staff, volunteers, and visitors, who treasure her vast knowledge of horticulture and the good humor for which she is famed. Betty is a peerless ambassador and advocate for public gardens and horticultural education throughout the world. She has led over 100 botanical tour groups to 46 countries for BBG since 1966 and has mentored several generations of North American public garden professionals.

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1921, Betty received a Bachelor of Science in botany and zoology from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. After a distinguished career in medical research in Cape Town and Boston, she joined the staff of BBG in 1960 as head of Adult Education. She eventually became director of the Garden and also served as its first vice president. Under Betty’s watch, BBG weathered the city government’s bankruptcy, grew the Adult Education program from 1,100 over 4,000 students, and improved the Garden’s collections.

Betty's unfailingly positive outlook on life, keen interest in people—especially in young people—and overarching love for gardens continue to inspire everyone she meets.
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