Analysis of arboreta members and the local community interests in participating in public gardens and arboreta programs

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Two studieswere conducted to better understand arboreta and community members' attitudes toward programming and benefits offered at arboreta and public gardens. The first study, a mail survey sent to arboreta members, included questions regarding what encourage them to become members and the services they value pertaining to their paid membership. The second study, an Internet survey of consumers residingwithin a 30-mile radius of the arboreta, also focused on interest in leisure activities and interest in traditional, gardening-related programs offered at the arboreta in an effort to understand what might increasemembership. Over half of the members (62.5%) responded that they were "completely satisfied," with only 3.4% selecting "neither dissatisfied nor satisfied" or some level of "dissatisfied." The top three reasons that motivated members to join the arboretum's association included "benefits offered" (28.2%), followed by providing the "arboretum with financial support" (22.9%), and "to attend horticultural educational programs at a discounted rate" (22.6%). Interest level in gardening appeared to be greater among arboreta members comparedwith community members, on the basis of the percentage of both groups who self-identified with phrases such as "skilled and knowledgeable" and "enjoys spending time gardening." Arboretamember interest in garden programming activities differed from those of local community respondents in all categories except "outdoor concerts and live performances," "wine tasting and tours," and "painting and drawing." The one program/activity that appeared to be more of interest to community members than arboreta members was "cooking and entertaining," with community members returning an average mean rating of 4.77 (1 = "very disinterested," 7 = "very interested") and arboreta members returning an average mean rating of 4.29. On the basis of the results of the survey and the strong interest expressed by both survey groups in program activities offered, arboreta staff should consider offering programming that appeals to both current members and community members at large and in an effort to assure a sustainable membership level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-914
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


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