Nicholasville student participates in virtual Arbor Day event

Published 2:20 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

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For the past five years, University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information students in Integrated Strategic Communication Event Planning (ISC 471), have taken on a client with a significant event scheduled for that semester. This semester, the class was working with The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, to host an event celebrating Arbor Day, scheduled for April 18.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent closing of The Arboretum, the class and event have been restructured to be held online.     

At the same time that The Arboretum and the ISC class were looking for other event options, Molly Davis, director of The Arboretum, was approached by Fran Dubrowski, director of Honoring the Future, an organization dedicated to harnessing the power of art to educate, empower and engage the public on climate change, about co-sponsoring an online exhibition, “Honoring Trees.” 

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This is the first online exhibition for Honoring the Future and members of ISC 471 are the only university students to assist with this event, along with nine other regional arboretums and botanical gardens across the country.

Not only does the event planning class hold such distinction, but Jamison Cooper, an ISC senior from Atlanta, has been invited by Dubrowski to have her original artwork for “Honoring Trees” featured as the visual branding imagery for the virtual exhibit.

Lloyd E. Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery is the lead curator of “Honoring Trees.”

The exhibit showcases the work of 14 artists from the United States and Canada, with an emphasis on the impact of climate change and the preservation of native trees. “Art can unite and uplift us in turbulent times,” Dubrowski explained.

ISC 471 is led by Marc Whitt and consists of 28 ISC students, mostly graduating seniors. The class is split into three teams: public relations, event experience and sponsorship and vendors.

“Every student is being assigned a specific duty, everyone has to pull together more than normal,” Whitt said. “The students have an excellent, can do attitude.”

The sponsorship and vendors team has reorganized to serve as the research and development team to create a social media plan and supporting research to leave with Honoring the Future after the event itself is over.

“We have been eager to develop a more comprehensive social media plan and are delighted the students are guiding us in that direction,” Dubrowski said.

Students on the event experience team are working on a virtual coloring book that parents and teachers could utilize that would feature trees native to Kentucky, with hopes of hosting an exhibit with completed coloring pages at The Arboretum in the future.

Public relations team members have been pitching stories about this event to media across Kentucky and selected national media outlets, as well as crafting and posting social media content for the event.   

Although the semester, and the subsequent in-person event may not have gone as originally planned, students have adapted well to this change of pace. 

“We are grateful that we are given the opportunity to continue because we were very excited about the Arbor Day event and now we’ll be able to pull off a virtual event,” said Dilly Siddiqi, an ISC senior from Nicholasville.

The exhibit is now online at and will be on display through the summer.