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Rotary Gardens' executive director resigns

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
January 7, 2012
— After nearly one year on the job, Rotary Botanical Gardens Executive Director Kelli Cameron has resigned to become director of Blackhawk Technical College's foundation and alumni association.

Cameron's last day at the gardens is Jan. 18, according to a news release.


The 32-year-old Milton native was hired at the gardens in January 2011 and started working there March 7.


"On behalf of the Rotary Botanical Gardens Board of Directors, we are very grateful for the energy that Kelli bought to the role of director in the last year," said board Chairwoman Mary Willmer-Sheedy in a statement. "We wish her the best in her new role."


Gary Smith, a past board chairman at the gardens, will again serve as part-time interim executive director until a replacement is hired, Willmer-Sheedy said. The board hopes to have someone hired by the end of April, she said.


"We have an outstanding staff and probably the most talented group of individuals who all have expertise in their areas, so we're not in a big rush," Willmer-Sheedy said.


Smith first served as volunteer interim executive director when Ed Lyons left the gardens' in June 2008. He filled the role until Dave Jennings was hired March 2009, then assumed the role again when Jennings resigned just seven months later.


Cameron said it has been an honor to lead Rotary Botanical Gardens through significant financial and strategic improvements in 2011.


"This is truly a community gem that will continue to grow as a destination for education, tourism and volunteerism while generating major economic benefits for the Rock County area," she said.


Although Cameron attributed 2011 gardens' accomplishments to the staff and volunteers, she said her overall biggest contribution being able to raise funds, pursue grants and "finding money outside individual donations."


Before returning to Rock County, Cameron was director of development and systems for Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services, a nonprofit organization in Spring Valley, about 45 miles west of Eau Claire.


Cameron holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture education and agriculture extension from Iowa State University. She earned a master's degree in agriculture extension education from Purdue University.



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