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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM INC

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Botanical Gardens & Arboreta, Children & Youth, Environment, Garden Clubs, Youth Development - Agricultural

Mission: The Friends of the National Arboretum is an independent, non-profit organization established to enhance, through public and private sector resources, support for the U.S. National Arboretum.

Target demographics: youth, families and local communities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 6,500 students

Geographic areas served: the US National Arboretum

Programs: The Washington Youth Garden serves DC public schools, youth and families in the local community and the general public. Using the garden cycle as a tool, the mission of the Washington Youth Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum is to inspire children and families to engage in self-discovery, explore relationships with food and the natural world, and contribute to the health and well-being of their communities. Other FONA projects include the Flowering Tree Walk, refurbishment of the Capitol Columns, Arboretum internship programs and the construction of a new gate at Bladensburg Road.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have worked closely with Friends of the National Arboretum since 2010 and have been on the board since 2015. During this time I’ve seen a lot of change, trending toward a more transparent and more financially successful organization dedicated to supporting the mission of the U.S.National Arboretum. In particular, Craven Rand’s leadership of FONA over the last 18 months has been essential to the many successes FONA and the Washington Youth Garden have enjoyed. In addition, the FONA and WYG staff have been extremely loyal and dedicated to the organization through difficult times. Currently, FONA and in particular, the WYG has been recognized with accolades and awards, and has been dedicated to serving the community in response to the COVD19 pandemic through donation of its garden produce to neighborhood and central food banks. FONA has more than met it 2020 budget, and is entering 2021 in a strong financial position, with the anticipation of starting a number of new initiatives which will build and maintain its financial stability for the future.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Washington Youth Garden is a national treasure and belongs on your list. I have been working with them in a variety of capacities for over 10 years - as a volunteer, a donor, and Board member and Chair of the Friends of the National Arboretum, of which the WYG is a program. I have participated in Elementary school field trips in the garden, and watched the superb young staff awaken their interest in the art and science of growing plants, harvesting their bounty, and making and enjoying food fresh from the garden. The wonder of a city child coming face to face with these experiences is a powerful foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating and environmental stewardship, amply supported by the the fun and adventure created by the staff as well as the gorgeous open environment of the National Arboretum. This has grown in this past year to include a teacher summer enrichment program to support year round learning about gardening, food and the natural world. I have interviewed high school students from inner city schools eager to participate in the WYG green ambassador intern program and participated with garden staff in evaluations leading to s program has grown from summer only to school year after school, including water sampling of a major stream restoration project, designed to monitor and measure water quality improvement. All of these programs are models of how much can can be achieved through thoughtful, careful, well planned and executed strategies married with highly focused enthusiasm. The WYG is a great nonprofit by any standard.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FONA offers the "best spring plant sale" in the DC area. This annual festival is my "go to" source for rare and quality material at a fair price. It is curated by knowledgeable buyers and staffed with experienced and helpful sales staff. On top of that, its profits support our national arboretum, DC's most rewarding, free green space to visit.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I lived in the Washington, DC area for many years and became devoted to the National Arboretum. I got involved with the Friends of the National Arboretum and have been ever since. The Friends is absolutely essential to the Arboretum. They are a great organization and provide exceptional value.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer at the national Arboretum and then invited to join the board about six years ago. I was immediately impressed with the commitment of board members to make the mission of a nonprofit a success. We had a board meeting today (coincidence) and we got extremely excellent reports and information from our executive director and his staff. My board colleagues I’ll step up to help in every way they can to support the mission. During this pandemic, the entire organization pivoted to make things happen, help the nearby residential community population, and keep the operation of our nonprofit moving forward.

Board Member

Rating: 5

FONA is comprised of dedicated and committed individuals who care about maintaining the 464 acres of green space in Washington, DC., 2 miles from the Capitol. FONA is a public-private enterprise supporting a national treasure where parking is free! The grounds are cultivated with world-class collections of trees and bushes. People from all over the country and world are welcome to stroll the property, seeing eagles soar and magnificent trees in bloom. For years, we have enjoyed music concerts on the grass, a ballet performance in the Herb Garden, dinners under the evening sky, 5k races passing by the Capitol Columns, years of garden fairs and sales, and visits to the Youth Garden where school children are taught nutrition and grow vegetables. These FONA-sponsored activities have something for everyone. Don't miss out! Join FONA today and help us to preserve this treasure for posterity.

Markita B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Friends of the National Arboretum is a great organization with a staff that is very dedicated, passionate and reliable. I have an opportunity to work with members of the FONA team daily in my work as a Special Events Coordinator for the US National Arboretum and it is truly an honor to be aligned with people who truly love what they do and go above and beyond to share such dynamic and engaging experiences with Arboretum visitors.

Board Member

Rating: 5

FONA and the Washington Youth Garden continue to do amazing work during this pandemic with fantastic distance learning resources for teachers, students and families and by growing and donating more than 3,000 pounds of delicious garden grown-food to families in need, while helping to keep the Arboretum open and safe for visits, nature hikes and even forest bathing!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have had the honor of working with the FONA group as a catering partner for a couple of years now & have with out a doubt had a wonderful experience with there team. It takes a lot of logistics, client facing, & attention to detail to service social & corporate event at FONA with there many different areas to host stunning events. The FONA team does a great job of keeping the vendor team informed on any changes, and acting as a great source to make sure we continuously do a great job not only for the events but also to protect the grounds!

We look forward to the continuing yours to work with the FONA group!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have worked with FONA for years now as a vendor for their private and public facing events. As a caterer bringing in food, equipment, staff, etc.; there are a lot of rules to make sure the grounds are protected from damage. While they protect the grounds - they also let us do our job to make sure that the clients paying for the space enjoy the property. They are always kind, courteous, and thoughtful.

When working with FONA for their internal events - we love supporting such an important organization or non profit! They are wonderful to work with and treat all their vendors with respect!

Our experience has been nothing but amazing and we will continue to keep supporting such a great cause.

Thank you!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I work with Friends of the National Arboretum a lot as I work for a catering company who caters many beautiful weddings at the Arboretum. They are an absolutely wonderful non-profit that goes above and beyond for the community. Every single person who I have had an opportunity to cross paths with has been nothing but nice and amazing to work with. I would recommend that people who are not familiar with this nonprofit, take a moment out of their day to go their research and talk a walk at the Arboretum, you won't regret it!

Natalie57

Advisor

Rating: 5

FONA is passionate and cares about the community & neighborhood of the U.S. National Arboretum. FONA works to keep this needed green space accessible to the public, an event space for weddings and events, and a beautiful resource to feed and teach kids about garden sustainability and health. As a nonprofit they exceed and meet expectations.

Donor

Rating: 5

FONA faces the challenge of involving potential donors whose normal routines bring them nowhere near FONA’s beneficiary. It succeeds by regular and enticing communications about its excellent programs. Volunteers and supporters from a far flung area join in support efforts to involve and educate the underprivileged in growing food and improving nutrition, while expanding a love and respect for nature and its preservation among all of us, including those at the seat of power.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had years of association with FONA events & staff. •• As a garden school coordinator with DC Public Schools, watching & learning from FONA led educators/gardeners who had great rapport with teachers & kids alike. ••Then, working with the DC Beekeepers Alliance on the two Youth Garden's beehives on an ad hoc basis & mentoring a staff member now & again. •• And again, working with about 15+ teens in their Youth Garden summer camp, tasked with a hands-on honey harvest (from the comb), which was an absolute blast: the kids were the real treat but the interaction with the Youth Garden counseling staff was magic as was the leadership & team skills of the kids - that was rewarding! •• I've volunteered before, during & after the Annual Garden Fair - directing vendors & cars, helping set up tents & tables, posting signs, clean-up, etc. - nothing too taxing or rigorous but very satisfying. Refreshments for an enormous volunteer staff always provided. • • Now & again I've gotten to do minor volunteer tasks, met some staff. •• I love the place, the people and the purpose.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) mobilizes resources to permit the National Arboretum to come alive with children's programs, festivals, plant sales, and educational programs. When the National Arboretum announced it was going to trash its azalea and boxwood collections because of a reduction in funding, FONA stepped in and has raised over a million dollars to save the azalea and boxwood collections. The story is not over. The campaign is still ongoing. See what happened at http://savetheazaleas.org

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

On November 9, 2010, Scott Aker of the US National Arboretum announced the Arboretum would destroy "National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection."

The independent website http://savetheazaleas.org was created to inform the public of this decision.

By February, 14, 2011, FONA had secured a $1 million donation and organized a campaign to raise a second million to save the azaleas and the boxwood. They rallied the major horticultural, plant, and garden societies to give their input and support this drive.

GREAT JOB!