Major and Planned Giving Officer
What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?
Jessica has been a member for seven years, but an employee only since December 2020. As an employee, her favorite season has been summer. But as a member, her favorite season is fall, because she loves seeing the leaves change. She realized not long before joining the Arboretum that every family Christmas card photo since moving to Illinois in 2014 has been taken near the Oak Collection. While they don’t always sit still for a photo, the kids seem to love playing in the colorful leaves as much as she enjoys watching them.
What is the best part of your job?
Through her role, Jessica meets Arboretum members and individuals that support the Arboretum in a variety of ways, including through major gifts or by including the Arboretum in their will or estate plans. She loves learning what inspires them to support the Arboretum. That is the best part of her job: learning the story of how they became involved with The Morton Arboretum and why they continue supporting our work.
Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?
Still a relatively new staff member, Jessica has not homed in on a favorite tree yet. She has been fortunate to tour the grounds with staff members who know a great deal more about trees than she does, so she is taking in all of that information before deciding which tree gets her vote. Her favorite location, though, would be the Oak Collection, as it is the destination for her family’s annual photo session.
What do you want guests to know about The Morton Arboretum and its mission?
The Morton Arboretum is an amazing place to hike and explore, but the science and the conservation taking place behind the scenes are also incredibly important. Jessica didn’t fully understand how much science and conservation work was taking place until she started working here. Her appreciation for all that the Arboretum has to offer has grown significantly in that time.
When thinking of the Arboretum’s Employee Core Values, which one resonates with you and why?
The one that Jessica is really enjoying now is “Keep Learning.” She understands that the more she can learn about the Arboretum the better she will be at her job. She has enjoyed taking classes through Arborversity, the employee online learning program. She is currently taking a class about the prairie and sharing aspects of it with her kids. She has also enjoyed taking donors out on tours with members of the Horticulture staff and learning about the Arboretum’s history, its many different trees, and its landscapes. Jessica feels fortunate to work with wonderful colleagues who are so willing to share their passion for trees, plants, and the Arboretum with her and others.
What’s an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?
Jessica encourages our visitors to take a tram ride or to take a class. There is so much knowledge to be shared and so many ways to learn it. She recently took a tram ride with her daughters and when it was over, one of her girls shared that it was the most relaxing thing she had done in a while! The tram ride is unique each time based on the driver, so she is looking forward to her next adventure aboard the Acorn Express.
Share an interesting fun fact about you:
Jessica is included on the 40th-anniversary edition of the Sound of Music DVD. An avid Sound of Music fan, Jessica attended a sing-along showing of the movie at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Dressed up like silver white winters that melt into spring with a friend, they were interviewed about their costumes while attending the showing, and it just happened to make the “special features” section of the 40th anniversary DVD edition when it was released a short time later. Jessica has also dressed up as brown paper packages tied up with string. Halloween costume contests have no shot with Jessica in the competition!