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.
Elizabeth Wells became the chair of the Council in July 2023. Here’s a little more about her.
When did you start visiting the Garden?
I have been fortunate in that I got to grow up visiting the Garden, as it has always been a place that has been important to my family. I can remember visiting frequently, whether it was just to wander around on a sunny or even rainy afternoon or to attend special events like the Holiday Flower and Train Show or an earlier version of Ghouls in the Garden. It is still one of my favorite places to visit as an adult, as there is always something interesting to see or experience or a place to just take a break and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Do you have a favorite Garden program?
There are so many amazing events that are put on at the Garden, it is truly hard to choose just one. I love that while adhering to the Garden’s specific mission, the Garden is able to offer such a variety of activities that appeal to not only plant lovers but almost everyone. Whether it is the Best of Missouri Market, Chinese Culture Days, Japanese Festival, Fest-of-Ale, Garden Gallop, the Members Speaker Series, or the Whitaker Music Festival, there is always something that will appeal to individuals with a variety of interests, and I enjoy then all!
What do you think the Garden brings to our community?
In addition to offering such a variety of programs designed to reach out to the community, I think that what makes the Garden so special is that it is a community institution. The Garden focuses on building local connections with individuals, families, companies, and other organizations, actively working to welcome everyone and provide a fun and engaging experience for all visitors. In addition, what makes it so great is that it is an internationally recognized institution; the Garden can utilize its vast connections and research teams to help the local community and provide expertise and support in things like education, conservation, and sustainability.
Why did you choose to get involved with the Young Friends Council?
The Garden has always been an enjoyable and important place in St. Louis for me. When I moved back to the city several years ago, I was immediately interested in finding a way to get more involved. The Young Friends Council seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to do so.
What are you most looking forward to during your year as Young Friends Council Chair?
I think that this upcoming year is going to be really exciting as we are able to fully utilize the new spaces provided by the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center—especially through the Bayer Event Center—to help make the Young Friends events like Fest-of-Ale, Trivia Night—Garden Style, and Garden Gallop even better than they have been.
How has the Council evolved since you joined?
The Young Friends Council generally appeals to similarly minded individuals who are eager to give back to the Garden and help support the mission through organizing and planning events and outreach in the community. Within that, I think that the Council has grown over the last couple of years to include a wider variety of perspectives and individuals with different skills and assets that help us to further support the Garden.
What is your fondest memory of being on the Young Friends Council?
Being on the Young Friends Council has allowed me to meet some amazing people. I have greatly enjoyed special opportunities including behind-the-scenes tours of the Garden and guest speakers. My favorite memories are probably from our work days out at Shaw Nature Reserve. These are fun days where you spend time getting to know the other Council members, outside, helping to preserve and protect some of the thousands of acres that the Garden maintains.