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Conserving New England's Flora

Conserving New England's FloraAsthe new president of the New England Wild Flower Society, Tuftsgraduate Frances Clark is committed to spreading the word aboutplant conservation. Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.18.05] Thanks to her new post at the helm of the country’soldest horticultural society, Frances Clark’s 20-year careerin horticulture is in bloom. Recently named the new presidentof the New England Wild FlowerSociety, the Tufts graduate is looking to advance the group'smission of promoting conservation of New England's varied plantlife.

"Wewant to teach people to appreciate wild flowers and speak up forthem," Clark, previously the society's education director,told the Framingham Tab. Along with new executive directorGwen Stauffer, the two women are the leaders of a group that isplanning to grow as vibrantly as the flora on whose behalf theywork.

The society,founded in 1900, states its objective as "promoting conservationof North American native plants through education, research, horticulture,habitat preservation, and advocacy."

To those ends,the organization – housed in a 45-acre botanical gardenin Framingham, Mass. – offers what it says is the largestnative plant education program in the country. This accomplishmentwas largely met under Clark's leadership.

The society'sactivities also include volunteer-driven conservation research,education and advocacy about preserving native plants againstinfiltration by invasive species and tours of New England gardens.

"Likeour founders, we want to develop plant conservation beyond thegarden gates," Clark told the Tab. "We wantto grow, but at the same time remain the same. We'd like to continueto be a welcoming place that offers a sense of community, butwe want the organization to grow and reach more people."

Clark graduatedfrom Tufts in 1990 with a Master's degree in urbanand environmental policy. She also studied at the LongwoodGraduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware.

The challengefor Clark and her colleagues is to educate New Englanders aboutthe value of the plants that surround them every day.

"We wantpeople to understand what it takes to protect our native floraand why we need to do it," she told the newspaper. "Nativeplants express the character of New England in a way that can'tbe replicated anywhere. We need to save them for the future generations.They're part of who we are."







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