MISSION: American in Bloom Lexington is a civic organization uniting our community to encourage and showcase a more beautiful, vibrant, and sustainable city.
VISION: We envision a welcoming community of informed citizens cooperatively engaged in preserving and enhancing our unique fabric of environmental, aesthetic, cultural and historical assets.
HISTORY: 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 Disneyworld 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?” Our invitation was extended to 90 civic and garden leaders in Fayette County, of whom 50 attended. 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. 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. 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 six criteria for judging.
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, 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!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ann Garrity, President – Ann retired from the University of Kentucky after 27 years spent 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 Arboretum/Master Gardener Lecture Committee that she and other board members were inspired to seek participation in the America in Bloom evaluation and awards program.
Victoria Meyer, Vice President – Victoria Meyer has worked as an RN in the Lexington community for 37 years. She has served as member and chair of the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Task Force, the board of the Kentucky Cancer Link, and is Chair of the Lexington Women’s Garden. AIB Lexington is another opportunity to work for the overall well-being of her community in ways that empower people of all ages to achieve and enjoy the healthiest lives possible.
Doris Settles, Secretary – Doris Settles has spent her life writing about people: their joys, successes, work and communities. Author of three books and articles too numerous to list, 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. Doris volunteers as a Fayette County Extension Master Gardener Program, where she was part of the original Arboretum/EMG committee that brought America in Bloom to Lexington.
Diane Fout, Treasurer – As Director of the Campus Center at Transylvania University’s campus in Lexington, Diane fulfills her love of organizing events and engaging others in collaborative efforts. She works, as well, with sustainability initiatives at Transylvania including managing its campus bike program. A life-long nature lover, her service on the AIB Lexington board provides the opportunity to take those interests outside the confines of her work and into the community. She regularly volunteers at community events and graduated with the first class of Lexington’s Citizen’s Environmental Academy.
Harry Clarke – Harry Clarke is a retired University of Kentucky professor and a former member of the Lexington’s City Council. He is also a member of several boards and commissions, including the Tree Board, Water Quality Fees Board, OperaLex, Picnic with the Pops, and the board of the Friends of the Arboretum. He was recently appointed to Lexington’s Board of Adjustment.
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 and Fayette County Master Gardeners Lecture Committee, Susan was the committee member whose silent auction bid “won” Katy Moss Warner’s visit to Lexington that set us in motion.
Sheila O. Ferrell – As Executive Director of the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, Sheila helps AIB-Lexington support and advocate for our history and cuclture. 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.
Beverly Fortune – Former feature writer and news reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Beverly is also a Fayette County Master Gardener. In February, 1990, she began writing a weekly garden column, a long running popular feature that ran every Saturday on the front of the Home & Garden section of the newspaper, as well as being carried on the Knight-Ridder wire service. She is a board member of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation and Phoenix Rising in addition to her work on the AIB Lexington Board.
Linda Gorton – Former Vice Mayor Gorton and 2018 Mayoral Candidate has been involved with AIB-Lexington from that first community breakfast with Katy Moss Warner. Her support both professionally and privately has empowered and expanded our capabilities.
Cathy Mobely – Cathy Mobley recently retired as a 27-year veteran of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Parks Department. Well versed in aspects of Parks and Recreation from Golf to Maintenance, her particular expertise lies in the areas of Turf Management and Landscaping. Responsible for keeping Parks areas, greenspaces and athletic fields in excellent condition, she also managed the upkeep and maintenance of several landscaping landmarks throughout Lexington’s parks and downtown corridors. Part of the original Landscaping AIB committee, she was elated when Lexington was named one of the best landscaped cities during the 2016 America In Bloom competition.
Liz Pattengill – Liz Pattengill came to Kentucky via Canada and her native England where a love of gardening was instilled in her at a young age. Since retirement she volunteers for the Lexington Council Garden Clubs (LCGC) a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc., and The Garden Club of Kentucky, representing LCGC on the city’s Corridor’s Commission. Liz’s local club, Gardenside Green Thumb, is undertaking a four-year restoration of the herb garden at Waveland State Site. Liz helped revive and chairs “Lexington in Bloom”, the biennial beautification contest, first started in 1992, and helped install a butterfly garden in her neighborhood Stonewall Park in 2015. Her work on AIB combines her love of history and gardening.
Angela Poe – As Program Manager for Public Information and Engagement – Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works in Lexington, 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.
Amy Sohner – Amy Sohner has been with Bluegrass Greensource since its inception and became Executive Director in 2006. She has a background in environmental education and a degree in Natural Resource Conservation and Management, but spends most of her days on program development and people/money management. In addition to her work with America In Bloom – Lexington, Amy is the Chair of Keep Lexington Beautiful, and on the board of Bluegrass Tomorrow and Women Leading Kentucky.
Michelle Young – A banker by profession, Michelle is currently Banking Center Coordinator for Traditional Bank’s Lansdowne location. Long engaged in the arts, community-building, and gardening in Lexington, she is excited to be involved with AIB-Lexington.
Marcia Farris – Following a 25 year career as Director of the UK/LFUCG Arboretum, Marcia helped organize our board until her sudden passing, providing experience and wisdom as we transitioned to a non-profit corporation in 2016.