Digging Into the Past, Creating the Future—Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
After 38 years of helping people grow through his career as a clinical social worker, Bruce Kerber wanted something different in retirement. He found his niche by looking to his past.
Bruce remembered playing on his Uncle Tony's farm as a child. During his college years Bruce had worked for his dad in the family's nursery business. He also did some research projects as part of his university curriculum. Throughout his professional life, Bruce enjoyed his own gardens and especially his orchid collection.
Looking to his past directed him to his future—right back to his Uncle Tony's farm, which had been purchased by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Now, as a volunteer with the Arboretum, Bruce assists with the research needed for returning the previously cleared and cultivated farm to its natural state of prairie and forest. One of the issues under study is how to deal with the imported—and invasive—European buckthorn tree that chokes out native plants.
As a part of his volunteer contribution, Bruce plants native shrubs and monitors their growth, gathering necessary data for the project. In addition to that work, he donated a large portion of his extensive orchid collection to the Arboretum and volunteers one morning a week there to assist in the care of "his plants" and the rest of the collection.
Getting out to do the heavy work of planting and tramping through the farm to monitor the progress of the new plants has been good for Bruce too. He credits his volunteer work with challenging him to keep up physically.
He's looking forward to the near future when Uncle Tony's farm—restored to its native splendor—will be open to the public to enjoy. When that happens, Bruce will see not only the Arboretum's goal come to fruition but also the fruits of his own life-long love of helping people and plants grow to their full potential.
Arboretums and botanical gardens are scattered all across the nation. Click Here for a list of facilities around the country. You might find a garden or arboretum in your local area where you can check volunteer opportunities.