Hoyt Arboretum Friends
Hoyt Arboretum Friends (HAF) is a member-supported, non-profit organization working in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation to manage Hoyt Arboretum. HAF's mission is to maintain and improve Hoyt Arboretum and its collections for all people through advocacy, resources, awareness and education. HAF manages the Visitor Center and volunteer resources, promotes the arboretum, plans special events, publishes visitor information, and provides critical financial support for Hoyt Arboretum operations, maintenance and capital improvements.
Hoyt Arboretum Friends' Accomplishments
In 1929 the city designated land to create Hoyt Arboretum. In 1931, WPA crews were the original workforce planting trees per a design by John W. Duncan. By the early 1980’s, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) had built a strong program of volunteers at various parks, an effort led by Gay Greger as the PP&R Volunteer Coordinator. There was an especially effective cadre of volunteers at Hoyt Arboretum. A loyal group of men known as the Tuesday Crew worked every week with Hoyt Arboretum Curator Fred Nilsen and Arbor Culturalist Jim Sjulin (both PP&R employees) on trails and maintenance of the collection in the arboretum. Sue Thomas, PP&R program director at the arboretum, recruited and trained volunteers to guide school groups, work on plant records and develop labels for the trees in the collection.
In 1984, PP&R was working with a group of Vietnam veterans and their families, and with the landscape architectural firm of Walker Macy to choose a location for a Vietnam veterans’ memorial. They settled on the bowl-like hillside north of the World Forestry Center, both for its natural contours and setting and because it was deemed to be “open space” in Hoyt Arboretum. This perception was disturbing to arboretum volunteers, staff and many neighbors who realized that the public also perceived the arboretum to be, in general, open space, therefore vulnerable to other unrelated uses. If it was to be preserved and improved as a plant collection, Hoyt Arboretum needed advocates.
Hence, the idea of a “friends” group was hatched. Its founders, as was the case for other effective friends groups around the city, came from volunteers already working to improve the park. Jack Todd, who had retired from the Forest Service and was part of the Tuesday Crew, chaired the first meeting in April of 1986. Catherine Taylor, who as a Portland Community College landscape design student had helped Sue Thomas design the first Winter Garden, was vice president. The Forest Service and Oregon Association of Nurseries we able to help advise and advocate for Hoyt, so the friends group included representatives from these organizations as well.
In May of 1986, Articles of Incorporation for Hoyt Arboretum Friends were signed with Catherine Taylor as president, Jack Todd as vice president and Jeradine Ketcham as secretary. Catherine was the first president of the incorporated HAF, with Jack and Catherine unofficially rotating the presidency until 1991. In January of 1987, HAF was granted nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.
While not on the initial board, arboretum neighbors were among early supporters of HAF, including Phyllis Reynolds, who was compiling a history of important Portland trees, and Joey Pope. Joey was the first neighbor to join the HAF Board in 1989 and became president in 1991. HAF operated as a grass-roots volunteer organization without staff throughout the 1990s advocating for Hoyt, raising funds for educational materials and capital projects, overseeing capital projects such as the building of the Visitor Center and renovation of Steven’s Pavilion, planning special events, organizing guided tours and building a membership base. The first staff was hired in 1999.
HAF Executive Directors:
1999-2001 Janet Beatty
2001-2008 Cynthia Haruyama
2008-2009 Robert Painter-Johnson
2009-2011 Mat Sinclair
2011-present Peggie Schwarz