In 1997, Ridgely resident Kathy Carmean was asked to serve on the board of trustees for a local organization she knew little about, and to which she had never paid a visit. Fortunately, she agreed. From gardening to events planning, from volunteering for programs to serving an unprecedented term as an Arboretum trustee, she has worked tirelessly for more than a decade as one of Adkins Arboretum’s premier ambassadors. In November, the Arboretum named Carmean its Volunteer of the Year for 2009.
As an Arboretum trustee—she is now the Arboretum’s first Trustee Emeritus—Carmean witnessed and helped bring about a marked transformation in an organization that would bear little resemblance to the Arboretum as it is known today. “The growth is amazing to me,” she says, recalling her introduction to a state-operated facility that offered minimal education or outreach programs. During her 12-year tenure, the Arboretum achieved nonprofit status; gained a 50-year lease from the state; developed an education curriculum and a thriving volunteer program; and launched a capital campaign to secure the Arboretum’s future and bolster its role as a community asset.
Carmean was involved every step of the way, from joining a Master Gardener training program to serving on countless Board committees, from attending meetings on the Arboretum’s behalf to volunteering for “tons” of programs. “That’s my love,” she says. “It’s my way of giving back. It’s something that interests me. I get a good feeling when I work with kids and adults. I love nature and I love promoting the Arboretum. It is a wonderful venue.”
“No one appreciates the contributions and potential of Adkins Arboretum for Caroline County as Kathy does,” says Executive Director Ellie Altman. “She has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Arboretum for more than a decade. I personally will always be indebted to her, not only for her friendship and support, but also for her bold vision for the Arboretum’s future.”
Likewise, Carmean extols the Arboretum’s leadership and broad array of programs and events. “I like to see things planned and accomplished,” she says. “The Arboretum is a quality, well-organized organization. Every program, every event is carried out well and gets better every year. I especially applaud the efforts to get children outdoors. Without the Arboretum, a lot of people wouldn’t have a place to bring their kids and expose them to nature. I think they do a wonderful job.”
Carmean will be honored at a volunteer luncheon on Jan. 28.