New leader named for Missouri Botanical Garden

St. Louis – An Irishman will be the first new director for the Missouri Botanical Garden in 40 years.

The Board of Trustees for the Garden announced Wednesday that Peter Wyse Jackson, the director of the National Botanical Garden in Dublin, Ireland, will start September 1st. Longtime director Peter Raven is retiring next summer.

Before working at the Dublin gardens, Dr. Wyse Jackson was the secretary general of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International. He is also the chair of the board that helps implement the United Nations strategy on plant conservation.

International conservation is a passion Wyse Jackson and Raven share - Raven first met Wyse Jackson 25 years ago when they were both part of one of the first conferences on the issue. The incoming director, Raven said, will only enhance the Missouri Botanical Garden's mission.

"Our collective outreach, while small in the general order of things is very important during a time of global climate change and rapid destruction of habitats and more consumption by an increasing number of humans," Raven said.

"If Dr. Raven is considered perhaps number one in the field, Dr. Wyse Jackson would be number two," said Board president Arnold Donald, who said Raven's enthusiasm for Wyse Jackson made the decision easy. "It's the amount of research in the areas that are key to our mission that Dr. Wyse Jackson has led or has actually done himself, and his reputation."

The Dublin gardens are smaller than the Missouri Botanical Garden, and funded solely through government revenue. But Donald said Wyse Jackson has experience with fundraising through his international work, and the board was not concerned.

"And of course, you know, we are very much indebted to the Zoo-Museum district here in our community, so taxpayers dollars are a huge support for the Missouri Botanical Garden, and form a foundation," he said. Donald said the board was also impressed by Wyse Jackson's ability to find practical applications for research he has done.

Wyse Jackson and the Board did not have much conversation about new programs, Donald said, but Raven knows at least one thing his replacement did in Dublin that he would like to see in St. Louis.

"One interesting small thing they did there was remove all the trash cans from the garden, the theory being that then people would be aware of what they were generating and carry it out, and of course that happened," Raven said.

Wyse Jackson starts September 1st. Raven will remain on through next summer to help with the transition.