By Susan Morgan
Congratulations to Rebecca Haller, HTM, director of the Horticultural Therapy Institute, for being the 2015 co-recipient of the Rhea McCandliss Professional Service Award by the American Horticultural Therapy Association! Pam Catlin, HTR, and Hilda Krus, HTR, presented Rebecca with this honor in front of her students and peers at the awards dinner during the annual conference in Portland, Oregon, in October.
According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), this award is “awarded to a registered member (HTM, HTR, or HTA) of the AHTA in recognition of significant contribution to the field of horticultural therapy characterized by distinctive service in the promotion, organization, and development of horticultural therapy programs or for an original or unusual contribution affecting the philosophy or practice of horticultural therapy.”
“Rebecca Haller has been a valued and respected member of the horticultural therapy professional community for almost 40 years,” says P. Diane Relf, PhD, HTM. “From her graduate student days at Kansas State University, where she received her M.S. in 1978, to today, she has consistently contributed to the advancement of horticulture as a tool for therapy and rehabilitation throughout her career.”
Video: Rebecca Haller, HTM, talks about what inspired her to pursue a career in horticultural therapy.
Rebecca established a vocational horticultural therapy (HT) program for adults with developmental disabilities in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is still going strong 30 years later. She also directed the HT programs at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where she established a certificate program for training HT professionals. She has presented to interdisciplinary groups all over the world, contributed to multimedia projects, and written for numerous publications, notably co-authoring a book, Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service and Community Programs, with Christine Kramer, with a new edition of the book coming out next year.
An active member of the AHTA, Rebecca has served in several leadership roles within the association, including being on the Board of Directors in various roles over the course of 10 years and notably serving as President. She continues to serve as a member of the Professional Registration Review Board.
Since 2002, as director and lead instructor, she has facilitated and taught the AHTA-accredited programs at the Horticultural Therapy Institute. She helped to design and implement the HT concentration in the department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University and has taught more than 700 students through the Institute. “Having worked with many students who have trained at her Institute in Denver, I have been very impressed by the depth and breadth of her curriculum and training program for our profession,” says Nancy Chambers, HTR. “Her standards are high and demanding, and this continues to contribute immeasurably to our profession.”
Read what alumni of Rebecca’s courses at the Institute have to say about her:
Rebecca Haller is the most genuine, caring, knowledgeable, committed and determined individual I could have asked for as I began my career towards becoming a Registered Horticultural Therapist. She is a true gem in the world of HT! Congratulations on your award, Rebecca!
Jonathan Irish, MA, LPC
How wonderful to see Rebecca recognized for her leadership in the HT profession! She is such a natural teacher, and inspires her students to be creative and innovative, while always drawing on the fundamentals of HT. I can’t tell you how many times I draw upon her wisdom during HT sessions — I swear I hear her voice in my ear at times!
Rebecca’s enthusiasm for the profession of Horticultural Therapy is inspiring! Her comprehensive classes at HTI and collaboration with notable colleagues in the field unquestionably helped me feel prepared to meet the varied demands of working in HT, and her insight continues to influence my program.
Katie Grimes, M.A.T.
Rebecca is such a caring and open person, and an individual who is dedicated to the expansion of the Horticultural Therapy profession. Years after I finished my classes with the HTI, I still was able to call her up about an issue that I was having and she was willing to listen, help me and offer advice; even with her busy schedule. However, during my time at the HTI, she was so helpful and understanding of any issue that I brought up. She encouraged me, pushed me intellectually, and I can’t say THANK YOU enough. I remember after my first day of class had finished – I was left feeling that this is where I should be, I belonged. My life had taken another turn, and Rebecca was right there to greet me with a warm Hello!
Erin Backus, HTR
Rebecca Haller has changed my life! By guiding and encouraging me on my path to become a competent and passionate horticultural therapist, her excellence as an educator, mentor, and advocate of growing this profession is admirable and her achievement highly deserved.
The first person I spoke with when I was exploring a career with horticultural therapy was Rebecca. Her honest feedback, encouragement, and expert guidance was the spark that led me to the rewarding career I have now. Thank you, Rebecca, for picking up the phone that day many years ago.
Donald Frisch, HTR
Rebecca gracefully combined wisdom, experience, humor, creativity, and teaching skills to encourage and inspire me to grow as a Horticultural Therapy practitioner and as a person.
Carol LaRocque, LPC, HTR