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Creative Communication Sources Contribute to American Botanical Council's Extensive Educational Influence

This is the third part of a five-part series recording the history of the American Botanical Council, published in observance of a full year's celebration of the organization's 10th anniversary, which began November 1, 1998.

As HerbalGram became the voice of communications for the herbal industry movement in the 1980s, consumers, industry members, and health science professionals alike began to rely on each issue for accurate, scientific information. Soon HerbalGram changed its format from a black and white newsletter to the four-color, peer-reviewed journal of today. In late 1993, Ginger Hudson joined the editorial team as Art Director. Her first cover design began with HerbalGram #31 focusing on Tibetan folk medicine -- the first issue to be created completely on computer.

The strikingly beautiful covers of HerbalGram directly reflect the content of each issue and the coordination between Ginger and the Steven Foster Group, Inc, which provides many of the herbal plant photos.

As HerbalGram grew through the mid 1990s, so did the editorial staff. In 1996 Dawnelle Malone joined ABC as an intern as she finished her formal studies in Anthropology. After graduation from the University of Texas, Dawnelle came on board full-time as research assistant and Assistant Editor for HerbalGram. Through Dawnelle's method of systematic organization, she aids Mark Blumenthal not only with his pharmaceutical classes at the University of Texas, but also with cataloging and organizing the enormous amount of international research, press reports, and articles to which ABC has contributed.

Providing viable herbal educational outlets became a function necessary to satisfy the needs of the ever-demanding public. Through the early 1990s a great push in this area was begun by ABC staff member Penny King, then continued by Ginger Webb.

In 1994, Mark Blumenthal developed a service called the HerbClip(TM) Educational Mailing Service. Ginger Webb helped coordinate the service during her tenure at ABC. HerbClip(TM) is mailed twice a month to more than 750 research scientists and industry leaders. Internationally published articles are summarized and peer-reviewed providing insight and perspective. Susan McFarland, HerbClip coordinator since the introduction of the service, handles more than 75,000 sheets of paper monthly. ABC has now produced HerbClip(TM) on CD-ROM featuring more than 750 executive summaries of articles published from 1996-1998.

Another significant educational resource managed by ABC is its internship program in numerous fields of work. One example is a program for students pursuing the registered dietitian course through Southwest Texas State University. Kara Dinda, the new Herbal Education Program Director and HerbClip(TM) Coordinator, currently supervises this program.

Kara is a recent graduate from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Massachusetts with a Masters of Phytomedicines. She works closely with pharmacists and health science professionals to develop educational programs and publications for both professional and consumer use. Kara is assisted by Niki Telkes, the Educational Projects Assistant and Volunteer Program Coordinator.

As ABC changed and grew, more management assistance was needed. In August 1995, Wayne Silverman, Ph.D., accepted the position of Chief Administrative Officer. His position includes overseeing the ABC staff and creating and integrating development and fund-raising programs.

Developing staff to run the organization has given ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal the opportunity to take write, lecture, and travel worldwide to spread the importance of the study and use of phytomedicines. ABC has contributed to a positive image of the herbal world for the public, researchers, and health professionals. Through legitimate sources such as HerbalGram, HerbClip(TM), Herbal Education Catalog, The Complete German Commission E Monographs -- Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, and ABC's website, <>, ABC offers easy access to information involving herbal efficacy. All these factors have made ABC a viable, unbiased herbal education resource demanded by consumers and health science professionals today.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Nancy Beckham