Friends of the National Arboretum

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) was founded in 1982 as an independent 501(c)(3). FONA serves as the primary private partner of the U.S National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. We preserve and enhance this vibrant public space and facilitate experiential programs that instill a love of plants, nature, and the outdoors in all who visit the Arboretum. We also promote the overarching research and education mission of the Arboretum.

Since its beginning, FONA has raised funds for projects around the Arboretum like the Capitol Columns, Flowering Tree Walk, and Springhouse Run stream restoration. FONA also supports the Arboretum’s research, plant explorations, and collections maintenance.

Washington Youth Garden

With the help of our members we offer garden-based educational programming through the Washington Youth Garden (WYG). This program began in 1971 as part of a city initiative to encourage children living in under-resourced neighborhoods to cultivate and grow their own foodWYG celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021 by continuing to support local youth and families.


Responding to COVID-19

The Arboretum closed from March through June of 2020 and FONA programs and events came to a halt.  We quickly shifted our focus to grow and donate fresh produce, coordinate safe outdoor activities, and offer multi-sensory programming to support students, families and teachers.

New Partners and Programs

This challenging time also led to stronger partnerships and collaboration. Throughout the year, we facilitated regular discussion sessions with 25 peer food and garden organizations to foster support and navigate how to best serve our community.

Impact and Anniversary

The quick pivot in our work required by the pandemic and the development of our new partnerships helped us to reach children, empower youth, support schools, improve food access, and connect people to nature. As the Arboretum’s 100th anniversary approaches, we continue to work on a long-term vision for the institution.  Learn more from our End of Year Report.

teachers from 60 schools attended a virtual training


hours worked in gardens by 8 high school interns


garden science kits distributed to 22 schools



A connection to the land fosters the mental, physical, and spiritual wellness of individuals, communities, and the planet.


Experiential learning encourages creativity, strengthens problem-solving skills, and inspires lifelong curiosity and engagement.


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: we are stronger and more impactful when we work collaboratively with each other and the communities we serve.


We better meet the needs of our communities by strategically responding to our changing world.


We acknowledge the history and harms of systemic racism and recognize our duty to take action to support the reconnection of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) to the land.


Amplifying underrepresented voices by creating space for constructive conversations and actions ensures universal access to the Arboretum and its resources.


Sharing joy through our work connects us with others and creates positive change.



Michael Stevens, Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District
Board Chair

Martha Van Dale, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Vice Chair

Virginia Kromm, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

John Cooney, Venable LLP, retired

Robert Bartlett Jr., The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co.
Zandra Chestnut, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Lynne Church, Landscape Designer and Energy Executive and Attorney, retired
Elizabeth M. Dugan, MD, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital
Chandler Goule, National Association of Wheat Growers
Jennifer Hatcher, Food Marketing Institute
Grant Leslie, Glover Park Group
Anne MacMillan, Invariant, Food and Agriculture Practice
Bill Matuszeski, Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia Citizens Advisory Committees
Scot Medbury, Quarryhill Botanical Garden
Paul Meyer, Morris Arboretum, retired
Tim Petri, Former U.S. Representative, Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, ret.
Pamela Raymont-Simpson, The Garden Club of America
Lucy S. Rhame
Barbara Shea, Founding President, Casey Trees
Lou Slade, Gorove Slade Associates
Peggy Strand, Venable LLP, retired
Nzinga Tull, Jackson and Tull
Tuckie Westfall, KraftHeinz, Director of Federal Government Affairs, retired



Potomac Unit

Trinidad Campus

Hendley Elementary School

Armstrong Elementary and Middle School

DC Beekeepers Alliance