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Making Connections Editor: Christine Kramer,
Program Manager,
HT Institute

Fall 2013 Newsletter

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

HTI Director’s Note: A “Reunion” in Minneapolis

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Rebecca Haller, Director HTIIt was wonderful to see so many of you at the 40th anniversary AHTA conference last month. What a great opportunity it was to reconnect with past and current students, colleagues from around the nation, work teams, new acquaintances, and even a fellow classmate from graduate school. AHTA’s first and second presidents, Earl Copus and Diane Relf, were there, along with five other past presidents. Speakers were especially informative and varied, including the important topics of research, design, and program development.

Here are a few take-away ideas from the conference.

  • Diane Relf: One of the most important needs of the profession is an organized written body of knowledge, including: research and documentation (like the kind you already use in your programs). She urged us all to “quantify the magic” that we all see in HT programs. (insert photo relf here)
  • Teresia Hazen: Find your three research studies that provide evidence for your work.
  • Matt Wichrowski: Keep current. Know your plants, know your people. Use Google Scholar to access abstracts of literature.
  • Virginia Burt: Where attention goes, energy flows. I think this very much applies to efforts to create and sustain HT programs.
  • Jane Saiers: For publishing research “Consider targeting journals read by healthcare providers and decision-makers in addition to HTs”.

I trust we all returned to work or classes with renewed enthusiasm!

HT Program Profile: The Trail to Inspiration

By Jordan Denney, recent HTI graduate

(editor’s note: One of three fall Fundamentals of HT classes will take place at Skyland Trail Nov. 7-10. See newsletter for details)

In one group at Skyland, clients made a wedding garland for Jordan out of daises that had a praying mantis on the cushion of the flower!

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Skyland Trail, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization for adults with mental illness. The experience of working at a leading treatment center for people with mental illness proved to be an introspective and explorative journey. Like a Shasta daisy, open wide with a comfortable cushion for insects to rejuvenate for their next flight, Skyland Trail supports their clients for their next flight towards a life full of purpose. Skyland Trail offers a holistic approach into changing the lives of their clients.

Clients have the power to guide their recovery through adjunctive therapies, such as music, art, and horticultural therapy. The adjunctive therapists work closely and collaborate with the treatment team throughout clients’ recovery. The collaborative energy of the Skyland Trail Community has proven beneficial through countless client success stories. Learning from such an institution concreted my perennial path in paving forward my passion for horticulture by giving to those in need through purposeful nature related activities.

During my internship at Skyland Trail, I was encouraged to lead specific groups of clients in the horticultural therapy sessions. I quickly learned Skyland Trail’s unique way of documentation and was entrusted to write group notes for a variety of horticultural therapy sessions. Skyland Trail offers a number of possibilities for reaching out to future clients and educating our community while also enhancing the impressive campus.

Learning from the passionate and talented Libba Shortridge, HTR, I gained confidence and skills in helping clients not only find an escape but also find enjoyment while engaging in various horticultural therapy activities. Fairy home building is a Skyland Trail staple. It entails finding forgotten beauty on the forest floor and putting ones imagination into those materials to create a whimsical fairy home. Fanciful fairy home building helps clients find reprieve while the process continues to aid in their steps to a balanced recovery. The clients also find simple pleasures in choosing beautiful flowers to place in arrangements that are often displayed for special events, or just give to a friend or family member. Additionally, there are horticultural therapy activities at Skyland Trail in which we encouraged clients to simply and mindfully walk through the woods, look around in wonder and witness the support that nature naturally provides. Such horticultural therapy activities clear the clients’ minds where they feel free to openly express their pride in their recovery journeys. Mother Nature makes it easy to realize that when clients brave their battle and work for a good cause, they will gain support from others through natural foundations and meaningful relationships.

Skyland Trail’s horticultural therapy program is able to unlock the connection that exists between people and plants. Positive plant metaphors challenge clients to form abstract thoughts on how their paths to recovery parallel one of a plant, naturally, with cycles of birth and desiccation, recovery and relapse. No matter the stage of treatment, each client’s needs remain in clear focus. Such needs include being open to change, finding meaning and happiness through anxiety, and awareness for an individual, whoever they are, were, or will become. Clients’ needs are met due to the constant conscientious communication that exists at Skyland Trail. Because of this extensive support system, the entire Skyland Trail community continues to experience fulfillment and mutual respect for all that is living.

The horticultural therapy program at Skyland Trail is a place to parallel ones recovery through the exploration of nature. It acts as a garden to grow ones identity, whether you are a client, counselor or intern. Interning at Skyland Trail has provided me with experiences and relationships that I will value for years to come. Hope, optimism and empowerment are in constant motion at Skyland Trail being recycled every day through every client. Going forward with my training from HTI combined with my past work experience at Skyland Trail, I feel confident that the time and energy I have spent on my horticultural therapy education will undoubtedly provide me with valuable opportunities in the future.

This photo was taken after a community workday involving clients and volunteers from the community. Here are the 3 hard-working HTI students, From left, Jordan Denney, Rebecca Wilson and Barbara Bohannon. (2 of whom are interns!) after the big day. They are sitting on the newly renovated pond and waterfall which was a part of Barb’s final project for HTI.


Kudos and Happenings at the HT Institute

What a pleasure to re-connect with 21 current and past HTI students at the recent AHTA conference. The photo showsjust a few of the gang together after the 40th anniversary gala. It’s always inspiring to see so many HTI students from a span of nearly 12 years come back together and enthusiastic about horticultural therapy.

Congratulations to the most recent group of students from the Colorado and California HTI certificate series who have graduated. In one of the biggest graduating classes yet, 46 students (after completing their final projects) will receive their certificates. We at HTI look forward to the inspiring and professional work these students bring to the field.

Fall Fundamentals of HT Classes still Enrolling:

There is still time to get enrolled in one of the fall fundamentals of HT classes being offered by the Institute. The deadline has passed for the Denver class but a few spots still remain. Call 303-388-0500 or email [email protected] to get enrolled.

Nov. 7-10, 2013
Skyland Trail, Atlanta, GA

Nov. 21-27, 2013
Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX


Congratulations to HTI student Jane Saiers, HTR

Jane Saiers, PhD, HTR, recently received her professional registration through the American Horticultural Therapy Association. Jane has a doctorate in Psychology and Neuroscience and worked for 22 years in the medical communications field before she began to pursue farming and horticultural therapy. With her husband, Jane owns and operates RambleRill Farm, which provides vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and herbs to local markets in and near Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

She is currently pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Agriculture at Central Carolina Community College. Her recently completed horticultural therapy internship at the North Carolina Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina entailed planning and providing horticultural therapy services to populations with traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder, severe mental illness, dementia, and to the homeless. In addition, as part of her internship activities, Jane served on the planning committee for The Farm at Penny Lane, which is being developed by XDS Inc. to offer community-dwelling people with severe, persistent mental illness the opportunity to learn about and engage in farm-related activities.

Jane is in the process of establishing a horticultural therapy and educational center at RambleRill Farm. Beginning in early 2014, the farm will offer on-site horticultural therapy and educational programs for people with mental illness. Program activities will entail experience with year-round vegetable growing, beekeeping, shiitake mushroom cultivation, and selling produce at farmers markets and through a produce subscription program. Nutritional education; training on methods of preparing and storing produce; and education on principles and practices of ecological, social, and economic sustainability will be incorporated into programs.