How to Fill a Native Plant Class

Renee Stambaugh has organized a series of classes on native plants in St. Augustine. She decided there was a need because at her speaking engagements, she could see the crowds and the crowds themselves growing. At the annual Flower and Garden Show at the agricultural center in April, where the crowds were the largest, she decided that a series of classes just covering native plants could work. She was right--her first class in June attracted 120 people on a Thursday afternoon!

Renee Stambaugh asks a question at a standing-rooming only native plant class in St. Augustine.
She engaged three other speakers and secured a room at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center (out near Rt. 95--nearly nine miles from St. Augustine's town center), and began the publicity. Two of the speakers (Gail Compton and Keith Fuller) write regular columns for the local paper, so they both gave the class coverage.

Meanwhile Renee sent an email announcing several native plant events in June events out to all her local email contacts. The events included a dinner, sponsored by FNPS Ixia chapter with Craig Heugel as speaker (ed. note: see our coverage of this event here:, a native landscape tour put on by FNPS Paw Paw chapter, a native plant sale at a local nursery that was renovating, a local Sea Oats FNPS chapter meeting and this class:

Here’s the rest of her email with the description of the class:

Hello Friends,
Having just returned from the Florida Native Plant Society Annual Conference, I am excited about sharing great information with you. By popular request, a number of events are planned for your education and enjoyment. Please clear your calendar now for powerful, can't-miss events listed below.
Please do not hesitate to reply if you wish to be removed from this elist.
(other events listed here)

Thursday, June 16, 2-4 PM
SJC Windstorm Training Center, 3111 Agricultural Drive, St. Augustine

Because native plants are becoming mainstream, experts in the area are teaming-up to provided information regarding sustainable gardening and landscaping. Instructors include Beverly Fleming, Florida Master Naturalist Instructor; Gail Compton, Columnist and Naturalist; Keith Fuller, SJC Horticulture Agent; and myself. Topics are relevant to the day. Free and open to the public. Landscapers, nurserymen and those in public office are encouraged to attend. Bonus: Feel free to stay afterwards for the Energy Efficiency Education Series featuring Low Impact Development (LID).
(other events listed here)
Please feel free to forward this information. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Keith Fuller, IFAS extension agent for St. Johns County addresses the room.
Wow, Renee and her crew's efforts were well rewarded, but now we'll see whether the enthusiasm carries over into July's class and future classes. In the next email, which was sent to the orginal list plus all of those who sign up at the class, Renee included this:
"At our first class, we accomplished our goal of creating enthusiasm. We listened to your comments and are now going to give you lots of native plant names.
Instructors and topics are as follows:
Beverly Fleming, Florida Master Naturalist Instructor, “Using Natives for Color”
Gail Compton, columnist and naturalist, “Native Hummingbird Attractors”
Renee Stambaugh, native plant consultant, “Landscaping Tips”

Free and open to the public.
Bonus: Feel free to stay afterwards for the Energy Efficiency Education Series featuring Green Roofs."

Renee  observed, "Being a Master Gardener, Florida Master Naturalist, Florida Butterfly Monitor, Florida Native Plant Society member, I just wanted to spread the word about Florida native plants. We are fortunate, in St. Johns County (SJC), to have a very cooperative local newspaper and it helps to have the support of the two nature columnists. The SJC Agricultural Center is a great venue and the Ag. Agents want to see something like this succeed. Nay sayers said, "The Ag. Center is too far out of the way" and "Afternoons will never work". Well, you can see that there is quite a hunger for this information, as 120 people attended. I encourage someone in every neighborhood to do this. If not you, then who? Finding a need and filling it is very gratifying.

Renee Stambaugh

"If not you, then who?" Have you run a good outreach event? We'd love to include a “how-to” here in the FNPS blog. Please share so others may learn from your experiences.

Ginny Stibolt


daisy g said…
Wow! That's fantastic that there's so much interest in native plants. Maybe they'll be easier to find now that people are gettin' with the program. Wish I was able to attend one of these...Thanks for sharing!
Anonymous said…
Great event. I went to your website and see you have another speaker series coming up on Thursday the 21st:

Thanks for all the resources.


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