Former Fellows of the Longwood Graduate Program are represented in a diverse array of professions throughout North America. The “Where Are They Now?” section of our Web site highlights some of these unique individuals, making amazing contributions to the field of public horticulture and beyond. Please enjoy reading about the accomplishment of our Alumni below and check back regularly for updates.
Gerald Dieleman joined the LGP Class of 2004 after graduating from the University of Guelph with an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture. He was drawn to the Longwood Graduate Program upon realizing a personal interest in public landscapes.
After graduating from the LGP, he interned with the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK for a year at the RHS Garden Rosemoor. He then worked as a landscape architect for 5 years with a private consulting firm in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2012, he moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and joined the Assiniboine Park Conservancy as Director of Horticulture.
As Director of Horticulture, Gerald is responsible for ornamental landscapes in the 400 acre Park that are as diverse as English Gardens, Formal Gardens and the zoological horticultural aspects of the Assiniboine Park Zoo. All in zone 3! Gerald, along with his colleagues and consultants are in the process of developing concept plans for a new Conservatory at Assiniboine Park scheduled to be opened in 2017.
The most valuable aspect of the program was having the opportunity to observe and understand how a public garden functions, from a visitor experience perspective and a programming and operations perspective. As part of the LGP, Gerald was able to get an overview of how institutions operate. In addition to all the gardens in the Philadelphia region, Gerald visited 6 different gardens in Canada as part of his thesis research. From visiting these gardens Gerald has developed a stronger understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing public gardens in Canada and how that may apply to his current position at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.
Gerald’s favorite memories of the Longwood Graduate Program came from the Tropical Internship in Costa Rica (now called International Experience). Seeing tropical plants in their natural environment left a lasting impression. He also saw first-hand the challenges involved with conservation in the tropical environments. In addition, the friendships he formed with classmates have been long-lasting.
Professional and Academic History:
Bill Vondrasek’s formal Horticulture training began after he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Math at the prestigious University of Chicago. He worked for many years in the wholesale florist business running a production greenhouse before becoming a Construction Manager and Supervisor at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Green Chicago Community Gardening Program. He moved to the Department of Recreation and Parks in Baltimore City, MD, where he became the Conservatory Supervisor, all before becoming a Longwood Graduate. Since Bill’s graduation from the Longwood Program he spent some time in Development for the Camden Children’s Garden before returning to Baltimore City. In his current position as Chief of Parks, he oversees 6000 acres of green space including an arboretum, conservatory, parks, sports fields and all the city trees.
The Longwood Graduate Program benefitted Bill “in a million ways.” When he returned to Baltimore City he immediately got involved with an interpretation project for the conservatory and was able to directly apply his experience and utilize the connections he made at Longwood. The program reinforced organizational skills, communication and leadership, giving him “a taste of how real organizations were run.” The rich and varied experiences prepared him for everything.
The trip to Costa Rica was most memorable. Second favorite was working on the Christmas Changeover at Longwood Gardens and rounding out Bill’s best memories from the LGP were the quarterly fieldtrips to other Public Garden Institutions.