Prospect Heights

Brooklyn Botanic Garden to receive 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Michelle Obama to present award

April 25, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced on Thursday that Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, has celebrated 20 years of institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. The award will be presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on May 8.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) was founded in 1910 as a truly urban botanic garden with a strong commitment to community and youth education, hands-on learning, and being accessible and welcoming to diverse urban communities. Its mission is to connect people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment.

One-hundred years ago, BBG launched the first-ever children’s garden within a public botanic garden, where generations of city children have learned to plant, tend and harvest their own garden plots. Thousands of participants have grown vegetables, herbs and flowers, while learning about plant science, sustainability and healthy eating and gaining invaluable skills in teamwork, leadership and resourcefulness.

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One such Children’s Garden participant is Chidi Duke, who was introduced to Brooklyn Botanic Garden at the age of 11 through Project Green Reach, a science enrichment program led by BBG in his Brooklyn elementary school. His teacher recommended him for the Children’s Garden program, where Chidi became captivated with the plant world. His role in the Children’s Garden grew progressively, and eventually he became a leader and mentor to younger participants.

Chidi enrolled in the Brooklyn Academy of Science and Environment (BASE), the public high school co-founded by Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park Alliance with the Department of Education, and is now a student of environmental law at The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He continues to be a part of BBG as an instructor with the Garden Apprentice Program for teens. Chidi will travel to Washington and share the impact Brooklyn Botanic Garden and its educational programs have had on his life during the May 8 celebration.

“Congratulations to the 2014 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. From programs that foster passion for science, literature and cultural heritage, to critical 21st century skills training for improved educational outcomes and workforce readiness, the services and programs of these institutions truly do make a difference,” said Susan H. Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We thank each of this year’s medal recipients for their innovation and their dedication to serving their communities.”

“Brooklyn Botanic Garden is tremendously honored to receive the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from IMLS,” said Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “Winning the medal this year is especially meaningful as BBG celebrates the centennial of its pioneering Children’s Garden.”

The 10 honorees exemplify the nation’s great diversity of libraries and museums and include a natural history museum, a children’s museum, a natural sciences museum, an aquarium, a botanic garden, public library systems and a book center, hailing from 10 states.

Winners of the National Medal were selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The award will be presented during a celebration in Washington, D.C. on May 8. After the ceremony, StoryCorps — a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans — will visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden to document stories from the community.

For a complete list of 2014 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, please visit

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