Meet the Young Friends Council Chair
Interview with Mike Torney

The Young Friends Program of the Missouri Botanical Garden is led by a 50-member council of leadership volunteers. The Young Friends Council was formed in 2008 and is responsible for the creation and support of events like Fest-of-Ale, Trivia Night—Garden Style, and Garden Gallop. They also support major initiatives of the Garden, such as the Garden for the World campaign.

Mike Torney, a financial advisor with Moneta, became the chair of the Council in July 2019. Here’s a little more about him.

When did you start visiting the Garden?

Headshot of Mike TorneyI started visiting when I came to St. Louis in 2010. After finishing law school and starting my career, I wanted to connect with the community and give back. The Garden stood out because it was important to me and my family; my wife and I had our wedding reception here.

How did you learn about the Young Friends Program?

I was already a member of the Garden and interested in becoming more engaged with the mission. I learned about the program through the website and applied to join the Council.

What do you like most about serving on the Council?

I’ve learned so much more about the Garden and its global role through the Council than I think I could have as a member, particularly with the opportunities we’ve had to go behind the scenes with staff and into greenhouses and research facilities. There is so much to see and learn.

I also must mention the connections I’ve made through the Council as well. I’ve built relationships with some great people, which I think is particularly important as a transplant to St. Louis. It’s a good way for a young professional to connect, engage, and bring others along. I love sharing such a special place with my friends and family.

What do you think the Garden brings to our community?

My understanding of the Garden’s role in our community has really evolved through my service on the Council. As a visitor and even a member, I thought the Garden was really for people who love the beauty of the plants and the landscapes; which, of course, it is. But I think it’s important to understand all the Garden offers.

I had no idea about the global scope of our research, for example. Or the world-class research and native plant conservation at Shaw Nature Reserve. That’s one of the reasons the Young Friends Council chose to direct proceeds from our events to the EarthWays Center in 2019. Sustainability and conservation are important parts of everything the Garden does in our community and around the world.

Is there anything else we should know?

I would encourage everyone to come to the Garden, Nature Reserve, and Butterfly House—not just as a visitor or a member, but also to learn about the research and conservation. We’re so much more than just our great events.