Hello from the New Head Curator of Natural History Collections
Greetings from the new head curator of natural history collections, Jennifer Ackerfield (me!). Although I am new to the Gardens, I have been studying the flora of Colorado for over 20 years. Many of you may recognize me as the author of the “Flora of Colorado.” I have also led several workshops and field trips for the Colorado Native Plant Society, Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and other venues. Prior to the Gardens, I was the curator of the Colorado State University Herbarium, where I also taught 150 students each year how to identify plants. Lastly, I just successfully defended my Ph.D. at Colorado State University, studying our native thistles. You can now call me Dr. Ackerfield (or Dr. Thistle)!
I was greatly invested in the botanical collections and student success at CSU, but after 21 years it was time for a change. When this position became available, I knew that this was just the opportunity for change that I was looking for: An opportunity that would allow me to continue research on the Rocky Mountain flora, mentor students and communicate science, all within an institution whose primary mission is the same as mine—to connect people with plants.
Words cannot describe how thrilled I was when I received the call that I would be the next head curator. I began in February—a strange time to start a new position. I worked onsite for all of a month before a global pandemic hit and the scientists of the Gardens began working from home. Throughout May and June, we slowly returned to the Gardens to move our natural history collections to the Freyer – Newman Center. Now that the move is over, I enjoy working in the new herbarium a few days week. This space was funded, in part, by an award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Award ID: MA-30-18-0410-18) and is a dream to work in.
As head curator, I am excited to collaborate with other researchers and organizations – working together to grow our natural history collections—and to communicate the importance of natural history collections to the general public. We look forward to the day when the collections can again be open to the public. For now, I encourage you to come explore outside and discover your own magical spot within the Gardens; to find some tranquility of your own during this strange time.
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I am so looking forward to volunteering in the herbarium and getting to know you.
May it happen soon!