By Aliyah Abraham
I arrived at the Awbury Arboretum in September 2016 to begin work as marketing intern. I lacked experience with both nature and horticulture; as someone who was raised in Philadelphia, I spent a large amount my time on concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads. During my childhood I would drive past Awbury en route to basketball games at Mallory Recreation Center, but I never explored Awbury.
On my first day, I was taken aback when I realized that this oasis existed. To say that I was genuinely surprised would be an understatement. I could not believe that Philadelphia has this large space which so many residents were unaware of. I wanted to get the word out, to get people to come to Awbury and see the great things that the arboretum offers. In my first few months there, every day that I came to work I would see something different. Whether it was a homeschool class participating in an activity outside, a new artist gallery in the Cope House, or exploring a new part of Awbury, there was always something new.
I believe that my lack of knowledge with horticulture has indirectly benefited Awbury and has brought in a new audience, in addition to our long-time supporters. We are now getting people to come and explore, sometimes for the first time.
Philadelphia has so many outdoor spaces, and sometimes these are not utilized simply because the public is unaware of them. Overall, in America we are moving away from the era of children sitting in front of televisions towards one in which kids are more active outside, especially in nature. Here at Awbury we have made it a mission to educate people that the arboretum is an inviting space, a space for people to come and explore. I am definitely glad to be a part of that.