Many years ago, in the mid 90's I suppose, I first became aware of the Center for Plant Conservation when I started to volunteer/monitor the rare and endangered species for the Plants of Concern Program administered by the Chicago Botanic Garden.
By virtue of the comprehensive nature and the wealth of information the CPC Web site offered It quickly became the "go-to" resource for all my plant identification, conservation and many botany related questions. And over the years the CPC Web site has remained a steady and a reliable source for plant information especially in the areas of plant identification and conservation.
More recently, as a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists I have come to admire the CPC for their enormous support and strategic foresight in co-sponsoring (along with the Smithsonian Institute) the international botanical art exhibition "Losing Paradise - Rare and Endangered Plants Here and Around the World." The exhibition soon to open in London continues to bring the issue of conservation to the wider public audience connecting art to science to people in a way, some would say, only fine art can.
This one venture seems so well to demonstrate the enormous breadth and dimension of what the CPC is about. And in so doing has given this writer, conservationist and staunch botanical artist a whole new appreciation of what the Center does and how!
I have heard Kathryn Kennedy, the Executive Director of CPC speak on several occasions. She is an excellent speaker and makes the valid point that plant species generally suffer from lack of attention and proper care and consideration, to say nothing of funding for study and stewardship. Habitats are suffering all over the world for various reasons, some natural, many due to GHG and climate change as well as urban development. We need our plants; they are part of the natural balance that we humans seem so hell bent on obliterating - mostly because plants, omnipresent but under the wire, have such a low profile. The CPC tells their story. AND the CPC works overtime to protect plants and educate us all to their vital value.
I have been associated with the Center for Plant Conservation since its start in the mid 1980s. I then helped it in its move to St. Louis ten years later. It is quite simply one of the finest nonprofits I have ever known. I now serve on its Board. Its magic lies in the outstanding conception that was involved in its formation: that it be a network of botanical gardens throughout the country, each preserving an approved list of endangered plant species from its own area as living plants in its gardens, in seed banks, and by monitoring them in nature. The formal nature of the agreement allows the CPC to build up a national collection for conservation, a collection that now is nearing 800 species. There is no finer scheme for plant conservation anywhere in the world, and none that involves so many people in so many different institutions.