The Native Plant Center will honor two of its venerable leaders at its 20th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, September 29 at the Larchmont Yacht Club. Carolyn Summers will receive the Center’s Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award and Lucille Werlinich of Purchase, will receive the Acorn Award. In addition, special leadership recognition will go to founding director Brooke Beebe, and Barbara Fischer, Patricia H. Keesee, Denise Santomero, Phillis Warden, and Elizabeth S. Wattles for their many years of service and support as members of the Steering Committee.
The Center’s Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award recognizes an individual or a group for environmental advocacy and leadership, particularly involving native plants. The Acorn Award recognizes an individual or a group that inspires people to learn about native plants and to grow them in their own gardens.
Carolyn Summers has devoted thousands of hours to educating and impassioning people on the use of native plants. A dedicated member of The Native Plant Center’s Steering Committee since 2004, she is a co-founder of and instructor in the certificate program Go Native U at Westchester Community College. For several years, she was chief coordinator of the annual Native Plant Sale. Carolyn, a landscape designer, developed her native plant expertise working for non-profit and government agencies. She is owner and creator of Flying Trillium Gardens & Preserve in the Catskills and author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East. She is a resident of Tarrytown.
Lucille Werlinich has been a pillar of The Native Plant Center since becoming a Steering Committee member in 2001. With expertise in banking and fundraising, she has been instrumental in ensuring the Center’s longevity by growing its endowment, co-chairing benefits, and providing generous support. She also advocates for native plants through outreach at community events, including the Center’s annual plant sale. Lucille is an active member of the Westchester Community College Foundation Board of Directors, continuing her family’s long history in assisting students, faculty, and programs at the college. She also chairs the Purchase College Foundation.
Steering Committee members who have stewarded and sustained The Native Plant Center since its early years will also be recognized.
“When The Native Plant Center opened its doors in 1998, few people were promoting the use of native plants in garden settings,” said Carol Capobianco, Director of the Center. “Our leaders were at the forefront of the movement—and many are still guiding us today. We are pleased to honor the commitment and dedication of these trailblazers.”
In 1998, a new venture was commencing at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York, as its Foundation established The Native Plant Center, the first affiliate of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
Betsy Stern was president of the Foundation at the time and on the Board of Directors of Mrs. Johnson’s organization that promoted and protected native plants and natural landscapes. Betsy took the lead in expanding the First Lady’s vision beyond the borders of Texas to New York.
Since then, The Native Plant Center has continued its mission to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants.
The 20th Anniversary event committee is chaired by Laura Blau, Bedford, and includes Catherine Ludden, Angel Morris, and Jessica A. Schuler.