We envision a welcoming community of informed citizens cooperatively engaged in preserving and enhancing our unique fabric of environmental, aesthetic, cultural and historical assets.
In 2013 the joint lecture committee of Fayette County Master Gardeners and the Friends of The Arboretum of Kentucky invited as its annual speaker, Katy Moss Warner, the 25 year director of landscapes at Disney World and a leader in the national America in Bloom organization. Her topic was “Beautiful Landscapes – the Key to Healthy Communities.” Ms. Warner agreed to pay her own expenses if we would arrange a meeting with civic leaders to talk about the benefits of participation in America in Bloom. We accepted her offer and with the help of then Vice Mayor Linda Gorton, organized a community breakfast on the morning following her talk on the topic “How Can We Make Lexington Even More Beautiful?” An invitation was extended to many of Lexington’s civic and garden leaders. Out of that morning’s very positive discussion, AIB Lexington was born.
For 2014 and 2015, the organizing committee worked on meeting the requirements of participation in the America in Bloom evaluation and awards program:
- Composing and submitting a 20 page community profile by May 1st;
- Hosting a pair of AIB judges in late June for a two day tour of sites included in the community profile;
- Attending the annual Symposium and Awards Program to receive (hopefully) recognition for Lexington beautification efforts and receive an extensive written report from the judges full of suggestions on how we as a community working together can make Lexington even more beautiful.
In late 2015, it was time to grow. Gaining nonprofit status occupied a considerable amount of time in 2016 as we formalized our vision and mission. The question we asked ourselves was basically the same as we asked at that Community Breakfast in 2013: how can we add value to all the efforts ongoing in Lexington? The answer from many was that we could foster collaboration, awareness, education, and recognition between and among all these efforts.
A partnership with Baptist Health and Girl Scouts provided trees to babies born in April, 2017 in an effort to improve urban tree canopy in Lexington. Trees were also given out free of charge at Arbor Day held at the Arboretum.
Our first annual Celebrate Lexington! event brought people together to hear presentations from representatives in each of the six AIB focus areas. Each year since, we have brought leaders in all seven areas together to share and network and learn how to move our fair city forward. And to honor people who have played a significant role in Lexington’s past beautification efforts, we established the Community Champion Award, with former Vice Mayor Isabel Yates being named the first recipient AND having the Award named for her. In 2018, former AIB Board member and Arboretum Director Marcia Farris was given the award, and in 2019 Elizabeth Pattengill received the honor. Daffodil drifts are planted in city park spaces to honor these deserving ladies.
When the Southland Drive Music Station was built, flowers for the stand and volunteers to keep them watered and looking good were needed. AIB-Lexington was happy to contact the Southland Sunshine Grow Shop, who supplied flowers, and the nearby Fire Department to keep things looking great.
Each year since 2014, AIB Lexington has created a comprehensive PROFILE for submission to the AIB National Competition and received forward-thinking evaluations from professional judges, based on the various criteria for judging. in 2019, at the behest of AIB judges, we branched out to include judging by the International Communities of Bloom organization. Again, we brought home high honors as an engaging and forward-thinking city.
And our efforts have paid off! Lexington has won numerous awards for environmental innovation, urban forestry, for beautification efforts, and more. Achieving a 5-star rating (which is the highest possible) in 2016 and 2017, and honors in 2018 when the system changed, we continue to strive to make Lexington the best place in America in which to live.
If you’d like to help, just let us know!
We look forward to working with YOU!
Ann Garrity, President – Ann retired from the University of Kentucky after 27 years in a variety of academic support roles including 15 years as Assistant to the Chancellor of the Lexington Campus. Since 1999 she has volunteered with community organizations as an advocate for children, the environment, and democratic engagement. It was through membership on the Friends of the Arboretum/Fayette County Master Gardener lecture committee that she and other board members were inspired to seek participation in the national America in Bloom Evaluation & Awards Program beginning in 2014.
Doris Settles, Vice President – Doris has spent her life writing about people: their joys, successes, work and communities. Author of three books and numerous articles, she has taught writing at Lexington Community College, the University of Kentucky, and serves as a writing mentor at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning and is currently a manager for the 2020 Census. Doris volunteers as a speaker for the Fayette County Extension Master Gardener Program, where she was part of the original lecture committee that brought America in Bloom to Lexington.
Diane Fout, Treasurer and Webmaster – Following a 30 year career in higher education, Diane found her true calling with the Department of Parks and Recreation. A life-long nature girl and graduate of the first class of Lexington’s Citizen’s Environmental Academy, her service on the AIB Lexington board provides the opportunity to take those interests outside the confines of her work and into the community.
Alethea Bernard – Alethea currently serves as the Community Development Specialist for the Community Action Council for Lexington-Fayette and nearby counties, procuring both small and large grants for community development. She makes time to participate in civic organizations near and dear to her heart including the Central Kentucky YMCA, the Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky and Lexington Rotary Club. Alethea deeply appreciates the importance of nature and beauty to the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. She is honored to be part of AIBLex because we share and promote her values.
Susan Craddock – Passionate about gardening and civic beautification, Susan is a past president and current vice president of the Lexington Council Garden Clubs as well as a past president of Down to Earth Garden Club. Her home gardens were part of the 2017 Lexington Garden Tour. This past spring she worked for Wilson’s Nursery and further broadened her knowledge of horticulture. She thoroughly enjoyed being a Stop Hostess for the AIB National Symposium and is honored to be a part of AIB Lex!
Susan Daole – Susan served as Education Librarian at the University of Kentucky until her retirement. With degrees in Library Science and Horticulture, Susan combines her love of connecting people with information with her love of gardening. As member of Friends of the Arboretum/Fayette County Master Gardeners Lecture Committee, Susan was the committee member whose silent auction bid at a garden convention “won” Katy Moss Warner’s visit to Lexington that set us in motion.
Laura Ferrell – Since 1964 Laura has contributed her time and energy to church and non-profit organizations in Lexington especially the High Street Neighborhood Childcare Center. For three years she chaired the popular fundraiser, The Golf Scramble, with all proceeds benefitting student scholarships at the Center. She has been a Fayette County Master Gardener for 10 years with most of her service hours spent in The Arboretum’s herb and vegetable gardens and as a docent in the Children’s Garden. Arboretum connections led her to AIBLex and serving as a tour guide for the AIB Symposium Downtown Walking Tour in 2017. “I was so impressed with the detailed organization of the tour and learned so much myself that when offered the opportunity to join the board, I gladly accepted.”
Sheila O. Ferrell – As Executive Director of the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, Sheila helps AIB-Lexington support and advocate for our history and culture. The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation serves as the region’s leading advocacy organization for all preservation related matters. Founded in 1955, it is the 14th oldest preservation organization in the United States. Sheila has spearheaded efforts to tell the story of hemp in Lexington’s early history and prosperity.
Tresine Logsden – Tresine spearheads student-driven sustainability in Fayette County Public Schools by working closely with teachers, principals, students and community partners to design and implement STEM-infused, problem and place-based improvement projects. She has 20 years of teaching experience and facilitates the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, a coalition of student leaders from all Lexington public and private high schools. Tresine helps craft national green school innovation by serving as founding member of Green Schools Alliance District Collaborative and US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools Sustainability Leadership Network. Under Tresine’s helm, FCPS earned 2016 National Best In School District Award at the national Green Schools Conference.
Gloria Martin – An eighth generation Kentucky farmer and former Fayette County Council member, Gloria has long been an advocate for preserving and beautifying places throughout Kentucky’s unique natural, historic and cultural landscapes. In support of this endeavor, she has served on numerous state and local boards and commissions. She and her husband have planted over 100 bur oak trees in Fayette County that they started from acorns. She and her family own and operate diversified farming operations in Fayette and Henderson Counties, all of which have agricultural and conservation easements in perpetuity.
Nancy McNally – Nancy is originally from Kansas City and has been busy as a Lexington community volunteer since retiring from a career in retail buying and management. For over 10 years she has been very active in supporting The Arboretum programs and served as President of The Friends of The Arboretum for 5 years as well as serving on their Advisory Board. Through Arboretum projects, she became associated with America in Bloom Lexington and is honored to serve as a Board member and support their mission.
Tolen Miles Penn – Miles served as the Horticulturist/Grounds Manager for the Lexington Cemetery for the past 20 years before being named its Executive Director in 2019. He has a Horticulture degree and is an ISA certified Arborist. His background is more centered with plant id and maintenance, and he speaks to garden and cemetery groups throughout the year. Miles currently serves on one state and one national cemetery association board and enjoys the community aspects of AIBLex.
Angela Poe – As Program Manager for Public Information and Engagement with the city’s Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, Angela helps AIB-Lexington stay on top of issues and programming in all six areas.
John Saylor – John is an experienced arborist with a demonstrated history of working in the government administration industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Plant Identification, Tree Planting, Landscaping, and Sustainability. AIB Lexington benefits from his expertise in these and other areas.
Paul Swoveland – As a Mayor appointed volunteer and past Chairman of the all-volunteer Environmental Commission, Paul leads a varied team of citizens in programs and projects aimed at educating the general public on local environmental issues and opportunities for improvement, organizing and conducting stream clean-ups, tree plantings and community educational events. In 2018, Paul organized and led the AIB Judges’ visit during June.
Mary Taylor – Mary grew up in Lexington and graduated from Lafayette, Transylvania University and University of Kentucky before she taught in Fayette County Public Schools for 30 years. Husband Jason and Mary own Perspectives, Paint, Wallpaper and Window Treatment Store in Southland which recently received the Silver level Green Check from the city for environmental initiatives. She serves as President of Transylvania Woman’s Club, Secretary of Church Woman United and a member of Local First. She loves to garden and tour other gardens. Serving as a volunteer tour guide for the AIB National Symposium led to her current position on AIB-Lexington’s board.
Marcia Farris – Following a 25 year career as Director of the UK/LFUCG Arboretum, Marcia helped organize our board until her sudden passing in 2017, providing experience and wisdom as we transitioned to a non-profit corporation in 2016.