At the Arboretum, when we think about accessibility, we’re asking ourselves two questions. What does it take for people to reach our landscape and programming? And once they’ve arrived, how easily can they navigate and participate? Several initiatives at the Arboretum are aimed at investigating these questions and finding solutions.
Education for Boston Public School Students
For over 35 years, we’ve run free education programming for Boston Public School (BPS) students in our landscape. The programs—which serve roughly 2,000 students annually—are free, and include free bus transportation, which is often a barrier for BPS field trips. In 2022, we piloted a new program for BPS middle school students called Arboretum Young Scientists, bringing life science programming to an age group that is currently underserved at botanic gardens nationally.
Visitor Engagement in the Landscape
At the outset of the pandemic, our visitor engagement staff members launched a pop-up visitor center, moving around the Arboretum to greet visitors and offer resources in the open air. We found that by meeting people where they were in the landscape, we were able to engage a broader swathe of visitors than ever before. A year later, we unveiled a new Mobile Visitor Center to solidify this practice of welcoming folks all over the Arboretum.
We’re working to provide more resources in languages other than English. Visitors can now access a series of webpages in Spanish and Simplified Chinese, including Plan a Visit and Visitor Tips and Guidelines.
The Roslindale Gateway Path Project
The Roslindale Gateway Path is a proposed ADA-accessible shared-use pedestrian and cycling path through the Arboretum. This project aims to extend the Southwest Corridor path system from the Forest Hills bus, subway, and Commuter Rail terminus to Roslindale Village Commuter Rail Station, providing carbon-free commuting options and connecting Boston residents with the natural environment close to where they live. In addition to proposed path connections, the path will establish two new entrances to the Arboretum, providing safe and welcoming access for thousands of Roslindale residents.
Training the Next Generation
We’re proud to support green jobs training initiatives like the City of Boston’s PowerCorpsBOS and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Green Team Summer Program. Participants in these programs visit the Arboretum to learn hands-on horticultural practices as part of their training.
For over 15 years, the Arboretum has partnered with the Norfolk County Agricultural High School to offer students a multiweek learning opportunity in our landscape. Working with Arboretum staff and researchers, the students learn about plant collections care and careers in horticulture and public gardens.
A newly formed interdepartmental Accessibility Committee is aimed at increasing accessibility to our landscape, programs, website, and buildings.