Small Mighty Boxerwood

It’s not easy being small in a large world, but we can and do make a difference.
Now in our 19th year, Boxerwood continues to serve the community with top-notch programs.

By Catrien van Assendelft, Director

When my son first went to kindergarten in Arizona, it was a big leap from the cozy intimate pre-school he had enjoyed at a friend’s home. One day, during his first week at the new big public elementary school, he forgot his backpack. Since he looked nervous about having to trek back through a long hallway to collect it, I asked what was wrong. He replied, “The world is so big and I am so small.”

Sometimes that is how Boxerwood feels – we are small, but with hard work we accomplish great things.

  • With only 7, mostly part-time staff members, we tend the 15-acre Boxerwood woodland garden, host special community events, and deliver first-rate environmental education programs to thousands of individuals.
  • We connect with nearly every child in Rockbridge County multiple times during their school careers, hoping to create a ripple effect of earth care that will spread well beyond our county’s borders.
  • We have received accolades from state and federal agencies for the quality and depth of our programs.
  • In past years, we secured over 1.3 million external dollars for local school districts, funding years of subsidies, science equipment, and teacher training initiatives, as well as life-changing educational trips for hundreds of youth.

How have we been able to accomplish so much with so little? We have because:

  • Boxerwood staff have worked for years without benefits, at low non-profit salaries, and still put in time and sweat and heart well beyond the job requirements to help us succeed.
  • We have a crew of dedicated volunteers who put in hours of labor each week in the office, in the garden, helping with events, or in educational programs.
  • We have had generous donors who helped make up the difference between actual program costs and what schools could pay.

Boxerwood is in its 19th year now, still serving the community with heart and soul. We recently held our annual Pumpkin Walk, bringing families together to experience a magical forest on a cloudy night, the pathways lit by jack-o-lanterns carved by many volunteers. Our Fall Walk and Talk series, where knowledgeable naturalists used the Boxerwood garden as a springboard for fascinating discussions, was a big success as well. These two events were able to net us close to $1,400, a small portion of our modest annual budget of around $350,000, but certainly a very welcome contribution to our operating costs.

Looking ahead, we are excited to bring back our wreath-making workshop in December, as well as our Gifts of Nature workshopAnd be on the lookout for Boxerwood’s float in partnership with another wonderful local organization during the Lexington parade!

In other news, a recent study from the Washington D.C. area examined, with the help of citizen-scientists, “the three-way interaction between plants, arthropods that eat those plants, and insectivorous birds that rely on caterpillars, spiders and other arthropods as food during the breeding season.” The resulting research supported the notion that restoring urban and suburban habitat with more native species can make a huge difference for wildlife and ecosystem health in general. It shows that homeowners, with a bit of yard, can make a big difference. Boxerwood hopes to keep encouraging such stewardship in the years to come.

Yes, we have a mortgage to pay and lights to keep on and gardens to tend. We have a leaky roof and foggy windows that desperately need replacing. But Boxerwood’s dedicated staff and volunteers keep delivering top-notch programs, keep getting kids excited about being in the woods, and keep raising and inspiring stewards of the earth. It isn’t always easy being small in a world full of large problems, but Boxerwood believers know we can and do make a difference. Thank you to all who believe in and support our work.

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