A VerySpatial Road Trip: Missouri Botanical Garden

Day 2 we hit some fantastic spots around St. Louis.  Hit the link below to find out more!

I’ve  been wanting to visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens since the 2008  ESRI UC Keynote.  Even though we got there late with only a rainy 1 ½ hours to spend at the gardens with time to stop by the gift shop, it was one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. It was a carefully curated magical wonderland that makes the science behind its over 150 year history look effortless. The Missouri Botanical Garden, started in 1859 by founder Henry Shaw,  is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation with field projects all over the world. It has always been dedicated to the advancement of American science and hasn’t shied away from new technologies. Each new technology builds upon the careful planning of its founder.botanical2

The ESRI UC keynote and videos online can’t convey the scale of GIS needed to track and plan everything at the botanical garden. They use GIS in their research around the world and the day to day work at the botanical garden.  When you mention GIS and the botanical gardens to staff or residents of St. Louis, they chuckle and tell you that they have student interns who do the data collection.  They then ask if you know that the botanical garden has grown to include sites such as an 800 acre aboreateum. Then they proudly laugh again. The William L. Brown Center (WLBC) studies the relationship between humans and their environment, providing research and field experience for graduate students in GIS and other areas.

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The botanical garden is a great example of citizen science at work. According to their visitor’s brochure, more than 1,900 volunteers donate over 150,000 hours a year to programs and projects at the botanical garden. The garden themselves are made up of different exhibits including some divided up into world regions such as an English Woodland Garden, Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, Ottoman, German, and tropical ecosystems. The tropical ecosystem is in The Climatron, the first R. Buckminster Fuller based geodesic dome used as a conservatory.

I left the Missouri Botanical Gardens thinking that creating the GIS and continuing to work on it must be very satisfying because the results of your efforts are so tangibely beautiful and satisfying.

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