Mutual decision uproots Maddox

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
— Mike Maddox will no longer be director of education at Rotary Botanical Gardens, effective Dec. 31.

The decision was mutual between Rotary Gardens and the Rock County UW Extension office, said Gary Smith, interim executive director at the gardens.

"Both organizations felt this was the right time to change and the right direction to take,'' he said.

Maddox leaves content with the decision.

"I'm happy," he said. "I've been at Rotary Gardens for nearly eight years and was able to grow the program as far as I could take it given the resources we had.''

Randy Thompson, UW Extension department head, praised the partnership.

"We wouldn't have been able to expand horticulture programming in Rock County without that public/private partnership. It benefited the people of Rock County, but also it served well both the need of UW Extension and Rotary Gardens to expand that programming within the horticulture area," he said.

When Maddox started at the gardens in 2003, his workweek was divided between both places. Since the beginning of 2010, his workload changed to two-thirds at the Extension and the rest at the gardens, Smith said.

As of Jan. 1, Maddox will be full time with the UW Extension. He will pursue new opportunities as part of that job, but he couldn't share details Tuesday.

Rotary Gardens did not pay Maddox a salary; it paid the UW Extension based on a formula of his salary and benefits.

"The net saving will be a good $10,000," Smith said.

Gardens' leaders plan to hire a part-time educational coordinator by February who will handle the administrative side of educational programming, he said.

That person will be responsible for registration and marketing and will work with school districts to coordinate educational programs and with volunteer members of a new youth education committee, Smith said.

During Maddox's time at the gardens, he added a new dimension to educational programming and trained volunteers to be independent.

"I spent a lot of time coaching individuals into going outside their comfort zone, working in teams and doing things they never did before. Part of that came from the concept that the success of any program is judged on if it can survive without you,'' Maddox said.

In addition to developing curriculum and programs for adults, Horticulture Director Mark Dwyer will also now coordinate and schedule two symposiums a year, plus start new monthly seminars for beginning gardeners.

"He wants to take this on, is very good at it, and we feel our educational programming will be enhanced,'' Smith said.

The end result, Smith said, is there will be more adult programming and enhanced and expanded children's and youth programs.

"We've got some good things going," Smith said. "This does not sever our working relationship with UW Extension. It's just that we won't have that UW Extension staff person as part of the gardens staff.''

Thompson agreed: "We will continue to have a relationship with Rotary Gardens but in a less formal manner. Their mission and the mission of UW Extension in providing educational opportunity to folks matches quite well.''

Rotary Gardens receives grant

The Theodore W. Batterman Family Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive.

The money will be used to repair the shoreline that borders the north side the gardens. Severe flooding in 2008 damaged the shoreline. Repairs will begin in spring.

Rotary Botanical Gardens are a 20-acre, nonprofit botanic garden with more than 20 different garden areas/styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. The gardens are home to many dramatic and themed gardens. Some have an international focus, such as the Japanese, Scottish, French Formal, Italian and English Cottage gardens.

Also included are less formally structured gardens, including one of very few fern and moss gardens recognized by the Hardy Fern Foundation in the United States, as well as shade, prairie and woodland gardens.

On-site also are a visitor center, gift shop and a facility that can be rented for wedding receptions, reunions, memorials and meetings.

The Parker Education Center and Cottage Gardens Gift Shop hours vary throughout the year.

Rotary Botanical Gardens are 100 percent self funded, have implemented admissions-based entry and encourage support through the Friends program.

For more information, call (608) 752-3885 or visit www.rotarygardens.org.

Last updated: 3:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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