Making Connections Editor: Christine Capra
Program Manager, HT Institute

2020 Spring Newsletter

Horticultural Therapy is making an impact on people’s lives.
Read more about how it’s happening.

HTI Director’s Note: Connections and Priorities

By Rebecca Haller, HTM

Greetings from Rebecca:

Horticultural therapy is certainly needed at this time. Although people have been communicating virtually with friends, family and colleagues, we are all eager for the time when we can meet face-to-face. The past weeks have given the entire world an opportunity to reflect on our connections and our priorities. We have conducted a grand global experiment of greatly increased screen time and have long known that nature connection provides an important antidote. Gardening offers rich possibility and easy access to those benefits. As we move forward, it is my opinion and hope that a greater public awareness of the healing power of gardening will lead to increased support for new and existing programs.

Meanwhile the Institute has moved quickly to shift our two spring/summer Horticultural Therapy Programming classes to an online format. A group of dedicated students just completed the first online course with four full days of synchronous meeting time. Now they are charged with the task to complete the class assignments to apply concepts and processes discussed in the virtual classroom. They took advantage of the Institute’s long-standing and continuing commitment to provide training in horticultural therapy.

I hope you are all able to get outside and to continue to cultivate plants and relationships.

HTI Program Profile:

Training Professionals for over 18 years

In our changing world it seems more than ever there is a deep-seated need to connect with the garden for well-being. With this in mind, both in the beginning as well as currently, the Horticultural Therapy Institute was established as a non-profit organization 18 years ago to provide high quality education in horticultural therapy with the aim to increase the number and excellence of HT programs in operation. The certificate program is a key effort to meet this mission. It is designed to train professionals in the core knowledge to practice horticultural therapy, with an emphasis on synthesis and practical application of knowledge.

Instructor Rebecca Haller, HTM during a class in Colorado

Our instructors who include, Rebecca Haller, HTR; Jay S. Rice, Ph.D.; Karen Kennedy, HTR and Pam Catlin, HTR, encompass a broad range of practice in HT and combine to offer more than 80 years of experience in the field. They are all energetic and experienced teachers and mentors.

The following courses are offered annually:

Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy Techniques

Horticultural Therapy Programming

Horticultural Therapy Management

The beginning course (Fundamentals of HT) will be offered in three locations this fall. If face-to-face classes are not viable the classes will be offered on-line, with a modified schedule. Check the web site for updates on class delivery formats.

Instructor Jay Rice, Ph.D during a class in North Carolina

Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2020
Denver, Colorado
Anchor Center for Blind Children

Nov. 12-15, 2020
Elkus Ranch
Half Moon Bay, CA

Dec. 3-6, 2020
Los Angeles Arboretum
Los Angeles, CA


Colorado State University academic credit is available for all four courses, for a total of nine semester credits. The certificate is accredited by the American Horticultural Therapy Association to assure students that it meets the HT coursework requirements for professional registration.

Students are encouraged to also enroll in horticulture and human sciences classes and complete an internship as required by the American Horticultural Therapy Association to earn the HTR (professional registration) credential.

Class activity in a Fundamentals class at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Students will acquire competencies that will enable them to:

  • Develop and evaluate HT programs that make use of available resources and supplement existing services.
  • Obtain funding and resources to support HT programs.
  • Plan, implement, and document effective treatment programs for individuals participating in HT activities.
  • Communicate effectively with and manage behavior of program participants.
  • Educate professional peers and members of the community about HT.
  • Design, develop and manage facilities for HT programs.
  • Adapt horticulture tools and techniques for use in HT programs.

To begin your horticultural therapy educational journey go to to enroll or email [email protected] or call 303-388-0500 for more information.

By Christine Capra, HTI Program Manager

Student Profiles

Throughout the last 18 years the Horticultural Therapy Institute has provided education, support and encouragement to over 1,300 students and issued nearly 400 certificates in horticultural therapy. Thinking back as well as moving forward, the rewards of the job come from seeing what these students go on to achieve and the lives they touch in the process. In a world becoming more and more detached from nature and the plant world, this unique field is what brings purposeful work and joy to so many.

Who are these Horticultural Therapy Institute students and what makes their work so impactful? Here are just a few examples.

Catherine Crowder, HTR is a contractor and founder of Seeds for Serenity in North Carolina. “While the bread and

Catherine Crowder, HTR

butter of my contract work are the bi-monthly sessions with elder friends at long-term care facilities, the groups that I most look forward to are cancer patients and cancer survivors at The Hirsch Wellness Network and The Healing Gardens at Cone Health Cancer Center.” It is humbling to be with this group; they openly share, listen and encourage one another. I am inspired by their tenacity, their resilience and their hope. A recent survey confirmed what we all know about the healing power of nature: One client shared: There are no promises in treatment and the medication side effects are discouraging. I came here feeling fear and anxiety after my last oncology appointment. I am leaving feeling peaceful and happy.” To read more about Catherine’s program go to:


Amy Brightwood, HTR took her internship at the North Carolina Botanical Garden and turned one of their

Amy Brightwood, HTR

partnerships into a pilot HT program. At a nearby elementary school she works with exceptional children (those who are differently abled) and for those with behavioral and family issues. “We wanted to provide hands-on, tactile, sensory activities to help with focus, emotion regulation, teamwork, and many other goals. The mission of the horticultural therapy program was to provide a non-threatening environment for children to work on determined goals that promote psychological, physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being,” she explained.” The garden as classroom and/or therapeutic tool supports a variety of learning styles and abilities. Participants gain a heightened sense of awareness of nature, seasons, how food is grown, and more through exploratory learning.  The program could be a replicable model for other interested schools to incorporate. To learn more about Amy’s program go to:

Irene Barber, HTR

Irene Barber, HTR is an educator and horticultural therapist at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. She brings her expertise to this premier 330-acre botanical garden situated in Maine’ s mid-coast town of Boothbay. Visitors find the award-winning universal access botanical garden hidden within the boreal forest of spruces, pines, oaks, maples, beech, firs and perishable ash trees sitting atop ledged topography, over-looking the shoreline of the tidal Sheepscot River that opens to the Atlantic Ocean only one mile away. It’s here that horticultural therapy programming takes place. For more information on Irene’s program at the Botanical Garden go to:

Begin a horticultural therapy journey this fall by enrolling in a Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy class in one of three locations: Denver, CO; Half Moon Bay, CA or Los Angeles, CA. To learn more about the training program at the Horticultural Therapy Institute go to or call 303-388-0500.

HTI Kudos:

Student receives HT credentials:

Congratulations to HTI graduate Calliope Correa, HTR who recently received her professional registration. While COVID 19 has brought much of her programming to a state of uncertainty, her spring was full of horticultural therapy work.

From Calliope who is an instructional support technician in the department of plant science at California State University, Fresno:

Calliope Correa, HTR

The program we started over 10 years ago with young adults with disabilities developing life and social skills is still going strong and is now fully supported by a local school district, complete with their own teacher and aides. At the beginning of the semester the students worked on their individual garden beds and planted with summer veggies. Sadly, they are not able to come and harvest but have each been growing plants at their homes and sending pictures and stories, very heartwarming! Myself and my staff continue to harvest the veggies they planted and send them pictures as well. We greatly miss the physical time together but for now, the virtual sharing keeps us connected and growing.

I also have been working with Insight Garden Program in Avenal State Prison for the last three years. We have planted a garden inside the prison and the work with the men inside was incredibly life-changing for me. Realizing the impact HT has from the perspective of those living in an environment mostly void of the natural world has been humbling and incredibly meaningful and has given me a much stronger appreciation for horticultural therapy. Watching someone hold a flower with intense adoration for the first time in 20 years, or smelling the fragrance of fresh lemongrass, brings an understanding that simply cannot be expressed in words. Looking forward to the time we can go back in and visit the garden and hold class again.

In moving towards the future, I hope to continue to work with those currently incarcerated and am looking towards a program focused on those re-entering society after release. But I’ve always found that direct roads are the least fun or productive, and look forward to the many paths and twists and turns that may lead me to the place I need to be with HT…. and I’m sure those roads will be made of dirt.

I feel that the shutdown of our society has brought a new appreciation and connection to the natural world as we watch people work in their yards and begin (or return to) growing their own food. If there is a silver lining, I believe this is it, and what a great time to help people get dirty!

HTI Student Receives AHS Award

Catharine McCord

The 2020 American Horticultural Society Great American Gardener’s Awards Recognized HTI graduate Catharine McCord for her significant contributions to the field of horticultural therapy. Catharine is a horticultural therapist specializing in sensory and therapeutic garden design and programming. Known for her multidisciplinary approach to horticultural therapy, McCord blends her landscape design training with her personal passion for mental health awareness, and her interest in herb- and plant-based medical treatments. As the program coordinator for Denver Botanic Gardens’ therapeutic horticulture program, McCord helps deliver programming both on-site in the Sensory Garden and off-site at care facilities. She also serves as a sensory garden design consultant in the Metro Denver area, supporting cultural institutions and other non-profits as they plan and build sensory gardens.

In 2017, as part of her master’s thesis project, McCord designed a sensory garden for Denver’s Sewall Child Development Center.  This garden was constructed with the aid of a $75,000 grant McCord helped secure from the Colorado Garden Foundation.