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.
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
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.