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Spring 2011 Newsletter

Linking People and Plants

HTI Director’s Note: Spring!

Hurray for snowdrops, crocuses, longer daylight hours and emerging foliage. As we break out of winter dormancy, I would like to make a plea to each of you.

Now is the time to think about and take action to advance the profession of horticultural therapy. The American Horticultural Therapy Association has the following active work teams: Marketing, Nominations and Elections, Fundraising, Research, Journal, Products, Newsletter, Conference, Awards, Social Media, Membership, Regional Outreach, Emerging Professional, Professional Registration, Education/Certificates, and the Internship Task Force. Whew, that’s a lot! You can see that many types of skills are needed. These volunteer teams, combined with the board of directors, help to shape the future of HT. To serve on most of these teams, you do not have to have HT experience, just a membership in AHTA and a willingness to contribute ideas and effort. For more info, contact Jennifer Jones at [email protected] or 610-225.2365.

So, jump in and get involved. Tap into your experience, interests and passions. You can make a positive difference! And, enjoy the stirrings of spring.

Rebecca L Haller, HTM
Director, HT Institute

Great Resources

Check out Dr. Bill Thomas’s blog, In his words, it’s a platform to attach conventional attitudes towards aging and to provide positive, growth-oriented alternatives for a life worth living. Worth checking out.

Also look at the Therapeutic Landscape Networks web site put together by TLN director, Naomi Sachs at The network is a gathering space providing information, education and advocacy about gardens, landscapes and other green spaces that promote health and well-being.

HTI News:

The year is off to a rousing start. The Institute just completed the Horticultural Therapy Management classes in Dec. 2010 and Feb. 2011 with 44 students graduating. One graduate began with our program in 2002 and came back to complete the coursework. Congratulations to all.

In addition 19 students attended the HT Techniques class at the Gardens on Spring Creek in Walnut Creek, CA and 27 attended the same class at the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, CO.

Word is getting out about our three Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes this fall with enrollment now open. The classes are as follows:

October 6-9, 2011
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, MO

November 3-6, 2011
Anchor Center for Blind Children
Denver, CO

November 17-20, 2011
Skyland Trail
Atlanta, GA

For more information go to our website at The site has been completely redesigned and easier to use. Take a look!

HTI Student Profile

From intern to contracted therapist; a personal journey of providing HT to youth-at-risk. ~  HTI graduate Angie Girdham

It is likely an unavoidable situation when you’re working with supportive people and witnessing positive outcomes… I became incredibly attached to the staff and residents of my internship facility; a court mandated, residential institution for area youth-at-risk. The 18 months it took for me to complete the required hours so that I could apply with the AHTA for my HTR credentials were filled with positive memories and valuable lessons that will remain with me always. As my time with the facility drew to an end I felt like I would be saying goodbye to family.

During one particular session in which a court administrator happened to be on the property, a staff member and I were overheard discussing the impending end of my internship. He kindly thanked me for my time and said how good the program had been for the residents; “it would be missed” he stated. The staff member and I both added how wonderful it would be to be able to continue the program, hopeful that it might be a possibility. A few moments after leaving the room, the administrator returned and asked that I present him with a proposal on what it would cost to retain my services. Needless to say, I was beside myself with excitement at the potential opportunity.

Without my education at HTI I wouldn’t have known how to even begin preparing a proper contract, how to calculate a fair fee or where to find the necessary insurance. All those lessons and guidelines fell into place for me: the activities and their objectives, the goals and proper documentation. I can confidently say that there hasn’t been a single assignment that I haven’t re-used or reviewed in preparation for the real life situations that have arose during my HT journey. It is because of my training with HTI that my final proposal mirrored the professionalism that Rebecca works to instill within her students and how I ultimately received the job.

While I will be the first to admit that I was very lucky at the ease of my transition from intern to independent contractor, I do understand that many little factors played large parts in the opportunity even being presented to me. Beginning with the understanding that there never was a session where I didn’t conduct myself as if I were a paid professional.

My commitment to the vision was solid, never losing sight of my goals. I would also remember my internship supervisor asking what I was doing to increase my chances of making the arrangement a more permanent one, helping me to make sure HT was becoming an invaluable tool for the facility and keeping that objective on the fore-front my mind. Additionally, as part of my internship documentation, I did beginning and conclusion surveys with the residents. That compiled information, along with the comments left by residents were then forwarded to the court administrators.

Each session was chronicled with a group assessment form and entries into a personal log. All of this material allowed me and the courts the ability to evaluate the program. Then lastly, I found out that the staff had written a letter to the administrators conveying the attributes of the program and the influence it had on the youth-at-risk residents. Qualities such as improved behavioral ratings, increased self-esteem, positive staff interaction and personal ownership of the facility were noted.

As I reflect on my time with HTI, I must add that the number one thing that they inspired within me was the ability to believe in my own capabilities, they gave me the tools to present myself and horticultural therapy in a professional and proficient manner. Thank you HTI!


View the recording of a recent live webinar:

Topic: Entering the Profession of Horticultural Therapy

You will learn:

  • What is horticultural therapy?
  • Where is it practiced?
  • Who does it serve?
  • How can you receive training?

View the webinar here


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