After a very thoughtful and effective search, I am pleased to announce that we have successfully recruited the new Rutgers Gardens and Campus Stewardship Director. Ariana Arancibia will join us to serve in this important role, effective June 14, 2021. Please join me in welcoming Ariana.
Ariana grew up in East Brunswick and visited Rutgers Gardens as a child. While getting her undergraduate degree at Rutgers – a BFA in Photography and Art History from Mason Gross – she made sure to introduce other students to the Gardens. Ariana went on to receive an MS in Nonprofit Management, specializing in Food Systems and the Environment, from The New School. For five years, she rose through the ranks of GreenThumb, the division of NYC Parks that manages 550 community gardens across the five boroughs. Prior to that, she worked with the Lower East Side Ecology Center NYC Compost Project and as an Americorps team leader and member. Ariana’s excellence has been recognized in multiple awards, including the NYC Parks Latino Society Alma Achiever Award for Aprecio, the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center 40 under 40 award, as well as others. She is highly organized, a great listener and team-builder, and experienced with program development and management.
Thank you to the search committee, which included representatives from Rutgers Gardens advisory board, membership, and volunteers and SEBS/NJAES faculty and staff. We look forward to supporting Ariana’s plans to build on the Garden’s legacy while also expanding participation and programming opportunities.
I want to extend special thanks to the Gardens’ leadership that has brought us to this exciting time. Thanks to Bruce Crawford, past director of Rutgers Gardens and current State Program Leader in Public and Home Horticulture with Rutgers Cooperative Extension. In this statewide position, Bruce is elevating home and public garden education in New Jersey through new educational programs, resources, and other statewide outreach activities. Moving forward, Bruce will continue to support Rutgers Gardens, along with the various other programs and sites at Rutgers.
I also thank Lena Struwe for her steadfast leadership as Faculty Director of the Rutgers Gardens since 2018. Lena steered the Gardens through the unexpected challenges of the pandemic and set the path for a successful transition. Lena continues as Director of the Chrysler Herbarium and as a committed supporter of the Gardens.
Thank you to the Rutgers Gardens staff. It has been a challenging year, with lots of ups and downs. Our Gardens staff have done a phenomenal job pivoting as programs were suspended and new safety protocols set in place. As more and more people have needed access to green spaces for mental and physical health, the Gardens staff have done their best to keep the Gardens accessible and safe. Thank you!
And lastly thank you to the Rutgers Gardens Advisory Board. With expertise in horticulture, landscape architecture, management, education, volunteerism, and much more, our board not only provides insights and vision for the Gardens’ future, but also share their passion for the Gardens with others and roll up their sleeves to get work done. Thank you all!
With the state and university opening up to more in-person activities, I look forward to Ariana’s leadership making Rutgers Gardens a place of peace, beauty, and safety for enjoyment by all of our visitors and an example of the Rutgers Land Grant mission of teaching, research, and service in the 21st Century.
Laura J. Lawson
Interim Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources