First Lady Michelle Obama Presents Prestigious Award to the Garden

In a White House ceremony on Friday, December 17, first lady Michelle Obama presented the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Services to The New York Botanical Garden. The National Medal, the highest honor the nation confers on museums, was accepted by Gregory Long, president of The New York Botanical Garden; and Karen Washington, a Bronx community activist, NYBG board member, and Bronx Green-Up community gardener, the Garden's program which turns empty lots into beautiful gardens and urban farms. The award was also presented to nine additional institutions. See an exclusive video of the first lady's award presentation here.

"While some of your work may be national in scope," the first lady said in her opening remarks, "ultimately your most powerful impact is local ... And that's particularly true in times of challenge and crisis, when many of you offer vital services, stepping up to be there for folks when they need you most. For example, The New York Botanical Garden started the Bronx Green-Up revitalization program, and they helped plant hundreds of school and community gardens in struggling neighborhoods so that families could grow their own fresh produce."

The Garden was cited for both Bronx Green-Up, and for the Garden's international plant research and conservation efforts dedicated to the study and understanding of the relationships between people and plants. "This award is a tribute to our dedicated staff members who continue to pursue the Garden's mission in horticulture, science, education, and community service," said Gregory Long.

"You come here from every corner of the country," said the first lady," from big cities and from small towns ... But you're here today because you all share the same commitment to excellence, the same determination to serve your communities." Mrs. Obama continued, "Your work has never just been limited to the four walls of your institutions. Instead, you bring what you have to offer to as many people as possible, reaching out to underserved populations, finding creative ways to stretch your resources as far as they can go."

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awards the National Medal annually to institutions that have demonstrated a long-term commitment to public service through innovative programs and community partnerships. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand congratulated the Garden saying the recognition shines a light on, "the Garden's commitment to providing local children with a safe environment to learn during non-school hours." New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer, added that the Garden is "a landmark in the community, and has always been ahead of the curve through its cutting-edge research."

IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel said, "The winners are making a difference by asking the right questions and tailoring solutions to enrich the lives of their community members." The winning institutions will receive a $10,000 award to help them expand their efforts along with a visit from StoryCorps.

Learn more about Bronx Green-Up and how to get involved.

Learn more about the Garden's plant research and conservation efforts.

To help support The New York Botanical Garden's efforts, to donate, volunteer, or become a member.

For more information on the National Medal and the IMLS.