Engage & Mentor

We Speak for Plants Because They Can’t

Understanding, protecting, and restoring native plants is only the first part of facilitating a better tomorrow for California. At the Garden, we are dedicated to advocating for our native plants and spreading the word about the beauty, benefits, and sustainability of supporting native habitats in the wild and in your homes.

Annual Conservation Symposium

Image of Boys on El Tigre taken by Denise KnappWe aim to attract a broad audience to this annual symposium, including county residents, policy-makers, academics, and environmentalists. Featuring the recipient of our John C. Prizlaff Conservation Award as well as other scientific leaders, this congregation of concerned citizens focuses on how the Garden’s efforts fit into a national and international perspective. From pollinators to large-scale restoration, conservation in a changing climate to rare plant protection, this symposium targets different hot topics of environmental concern.

In 2016, we were co-chairs and fiscal agents of the ninth California Islands Symposium, which drew roughly 500 scientists from all over the nation and globe. Appropriately, this came just over fifty years since the Garden convened the first such symposium in 1965.

Click here for details about the 6th Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium.

Teaching Tomorrow’s Scientists

Image of Matt Guilliams speaking at the Volunteer Luncheon 2015 taken by Randy WrightEducational opportunities focusing on natural history have been dwindling across institutes of higher learning, including botany and ecology courses. Although these courses are often mainstays of biology departments and vital to undergraduate and graduate student training, the cost of low student-teacher ratios, expensive field trips, and the need for teaching assistants to lead lab sections have often made these classes seem overly costly. As a result, fewer and fewer botany courses are being offered at U.S. universities – for example, courses focusing on the California flora and vegetation have not been offered at UCSB since 2003. The Garden is currently working to change this; in Spring 2017, Matt Guillams is scheduled to offer California Flora and Vegetation. In summer 2016, Heather Schneider is teaching Plant Biology and Biodiversity; and since 2015, Denise Knapp has taught the Natural History of the California Channel Islands. These UCSB courses gives the Garden an opportunity to engage the next generation in the value and context of biodiversity, native plant botany, and natural history through the lens of fascinating and dramatically beautiful landscapes in our own backyard.

Natural History of the California Channel Islands will also be offered at the Garden in Fall 2020. Click here for more information.

Become a Rare Plant Champion

IMage of Scarified and soaked lupine seeds taken by Betsy CollinsThe Garden is building a comprehensive rare plant education and outreach volunteer task force. This program will include both formal lectures and hands-on opportunities for citizen scientist volunteers. Goals for the future include:

  • Offering a rare plant lecture series
  • Leading Rare Plant Treasure Hunts on the mainland and the Channel Islands
  • Creating an “Adopt a Seed” or “Adopt a Rare Plant” program
  • Assembling a group of citizen science stewards to assist with rare plant work both in the lab and in the field