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ABC Board of Trustees Members Holly Shimizu and Michael Balick’s Achievements Recognized with Prestigious Horticultural Awards


In March 2020, two members of the American Botanical Council (ABC) Board of Trustees were honored for their achievements in the fields of horticultural science and gardening. Holly Shimizu, former executive director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, received the Scott Medal and Award from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College and Michael J. Balick, PhD, director and senior philecology curator of the New York Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany, received the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS’s) H. Marc Cathey Award.

Holly Shimizu Receives Scott Medal and Award

The Scott Medal and Award are given annually to an individual, organization, or corporate body who “has made an outstanding national contribution to the science and the art of gardening.” The purpose of the award is “to promote a greater love of nature, make the nation more conscious of the beauty of the outdoors, [and] develop a greater knowledge and love of plants and flowers.”1

Shimizu, a nationally recognized horticulturist, consultant, and educator with a commitment to plant conservation and sustainability, was nominated for the award by Ari Novy, PhD, president and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden, and Paul W. Meyer, former director of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Shimizu would have received the award and presented the keynote speech at the Scott Arboretum’s Spring Celebration on March 15, 2020, but the event has been rescheduled to October 18. For her speech, Shimizu plans to focus on stewardship, sustainability, and a healthier planet through habitat and soil preservation, highlighting the efforts of organizations and initiatives, including ABC and its Sustainable Herbs Program, the Ecological Landscape Alliance, United Plant Savers, and the Sustainable SITES Initiative. Shimizu joined the ABC Board of Trustees in 2017.2

“It is an incredible honor to receive this prestigious award, which has been given to people I have admired throughout my life,” wrote Shimizu (email, March 18, 2020). “Sharing my own love for and excitement about plants, herbs, gardens, and the environment with people over the years has been extremely rewarding, filled with rich experiences and continued learning, and it has brought me together with amazing people.”

Michael Balick Receives H. Marc Cathey Award

The award, named in honor of horticultural scientist and former AHS President H. Marc Cathey, PhD, is given every other year as a part of AHS’s Great American Gardeners Awards to an individual for “outstanding scientific research that has enriched horticulture and plant science.”3 Formerly known as the Scientific Award until its name change in 2000, the award has been given since 1953. It is scheduled to be presented to Balick at the 2020 Great American Gardeners and Book Awards Ceremony and Banquet on June 18, 2020, at AHS’s River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

Balick works with indigenous peoples in tropical, subtropical, and desert environments to document and preserve traditional medicinal plant knowledge while evaluating these plants for potential pharmaceutical applications. His most recent project focuses on documenting the diversity, local use, and management of plant resources in Micronesia and Melanesia to implement a conservation plan to help these communities sustainably manage these resources. Balick has served on the ABC board since 1999, and was profiled in HerbalGram issue 82.4

“Marc Cathey was one of the most significant figures of his day in the field of horticulture, outreach, and research, and it is wonderful to see his legacy continued by the American Horticultural Society,” Balick wrote (email, March 18, 2020). “It is said that researchers stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded them, and Dr. Cathey was certainly one of those giants, his influence reaching millions of people through his work in public horticulture, plant introductions, lectures, and radio shows. Many of us, therefore, have been privileged to stand on his shoulders. I always enjoyed listening to him talk about plants. I am grateful to the AHS for recognizing our work at The New York Botanical Garden, particularly the efforts to preserve plant biodiversity and cultural knowledge of plants, which are all essential to maintaining environmental resilience in the face of global change.”


  1. Scott Medal and Award. The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College website. Available at: Accessed March 18, 2020.
  2. ABC Staff. American Botanical Council Welcomes Three New Board of Trustees Members. HerbalGram. 2018;117:22-24. Available at: Accessed March 19, 2020.
  3. 2020 Award Winners. American Horticultural Society website. Available at: Accessed March 18, 2020.
  4. Stafford-Mader L. Meet ABC Board Member Michael J. Balick: Award-Winning Ethnobotanist and Conservationist. HerbalGram. 2009;82:14-15. Available at: Accessed March 19, 2020.