Executive Director’s Year-End Address

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Greetings from Tyler Arboretum! I hope that you and your loved ones continue to remain safe and in good health. Yes, 2020 was a year full of surprises and unknowns; however, our community has shown incredible resilience, innovation, and flexibility. As the year comes to a close, this seems like the perfect time to reflect on the journey we have taken, and the plans we have in store for the year ahead.

Advancing Our Mission

Spending time outdoors is critical to our physical, emotional and psychological well-being. Allowing ourselves to soak in the sights and sounds of nature while enjoying the fresh air and sunlight can reduce stress and anxiety, boost our immune systems, spark creativity and help us relax and think more clearly (a great article to check out: Scientific benefits of spending time in nature – Business Insider).

Whether you are in need of a break from the endless stream of texts, emails and Zoom calls, searching for a fun and beautiful place to safely catch up with family and friends, or trying to maintain an exercise routine when your favorite gym or fitness studio is closed, Tyler has you covered.

We have taken several steps to advance our mission of preserving, enhancing and sharing our heritage, collections and landscapes, including but not limited to:

  • Expanded access to the spring house located in the valley below Lachford Hall, in the area we call the Old Arb, with the installation of the Fruit Vault steps.
  • Extended the growing season at Lucille’s Garden to include late fall and winter crops, and sharing 100% of our harvest with food banks in Delaware County.
  • Resumed our weekly bird walks and wildflower tours in addition to launching yoga and strength-training classes with Evolution Fitness and monthly hiking excursions with the Chester County Trails Association.
  • Launched the successful debut of Tyler Honey – produced, extracted and bottled here at the Arboretum!
  • Introduced five new communication platforms to inspire and educate nature and conservation enthusiasts:
  • Mystery Plant Mondays and Gardening Tip Tuesdays (follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/tylerarboretum)
  • Tyler Connect, featuring timely blogs and DIY activities (visit us at: https://www.tylerarboretum.org/tyler-connect)
  • Painter Press, our monthly e-newsletter
  • Hosted the Great Ginkgo Watch in October and the Owl Prowl/Christmas Bird Count in December
  • Tyler’s YouTube channel, featuring video tours of our trails and meadows, seasonal attractions and renowned collections, and citizen science projects such as the American Chestnut Orchard, bluebird monitoring program, Pink Hill Serpentine Barren Restoration, Tyler’s Hive Sponsorship program and more! Check out our latest video about the Pinetum: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_q-PV2B_pSebmCxPZkoDpg

As a result of all the above, we are seeing increased engagement on Facebook, Instagram and our website. Make sure you follow us!

We are pleased to report that Tyler has experienced a noticeable increase in admissions, membership sales and donations this year; however, there are still plenty of people who have yet to discover the beauty of Tyler, so please help us spread the word by inviting a friend or neighbor to join you during your next visit.

Enhancing Our Operations 

For those who participated in our visitor satisfaction survey in the fall – thank you!  We have compiled and analyzed the results and are in the process of implementing your suggestions.

As we look ahead to 2021, we will continue to make incremental changes to better serve you and uphold our organization’s commitment to conservation and sustainability:

Continuing to Enhance our Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Practices

  • Printing on recycled paper (i.e. appeals, brochures, event invitations, visitor maps, etc.).
  • Shifting to paperless systems, where possible. Tyler has already transitioned to cloud-based services for its accounting, bill paying and document signing services.
  • Upgrading our buildings and equipment with energy-efficient appliances and products.
  • Identifying more ways we can make less impact on the planet through our daily decisions.

Diversifying Our Endowment Portfolio

Currently, 20% of Tyler’s endowment is invested in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) funds, which focus on companies that minimize negative impacts to the environment over time. Tyler analyzes the performance of these funds on a quarterly basis and will actively seek opportunities to add new ESG funds to its portfolio when appropriate.

Changing Our Hours of Operation

Based on your feedback, Tyler is aiming to change its hours of operation during the peak season (March – October) by opening earlier in the morning and offering extended hours in the evening. We are also exploring options for self-serve check-in kiosks to reduce wait times for our members.

Extending the Season of Our Butterfly House

We are revamping the design of the interior and exterior garden beds, creating new programs, and extending the season of the Butterfly House from an 8-week exhibit to a 6-month attraction.

Children’s Programming

With scouting and school field trips on hold indefinitely, Tyler is working to convert our curriculum into a virtual format. We apologize for the delay in delivering this content as we recognize families are in need of fun, interactive activities that they can enjoy right now.  We, too, are juggling many priorities with limited resources, but have now secured grant funding to help accelerate the production schedule. We hope you are spending time away from the screens right now and have enjoyed a scavenger hunt (or two) at Tyler using the “What’s in Bloom” section of our website.

On behalf of our staff, volunteers and Board of Trustees, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for helping Tyler defy the odds of 2020; it truly was a group effort. We send warm wishes that 2021 will be filled with many more opportunities for you and your family to keep exploring and connecting to nature here at Tyler!

If you have questions, ideas or ways you would like to contribute, I am always open to hearing from you. Tyler is not just a place for the community; Tyler is community. You are a valuable part of Tyler Arboretum and we hope you feel connected.


Mandy Santiago

Executive Director