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Employee Profile: Holly Ferguson

ABC is most fortunate to have Holly Ferguson as our education coordinator and garden manager. Holly came to ABC in the fall of 2008 after moving to Austin from her native Arkansas.

Holly is a perfect fit here at ABC. She has a background in herbal medicine, having studied with the late herbalist/author Michael Moore. An avowed naturalist, she grew up in the Ozarks on the side of a mountain—literally in the woods, i.e., with no running water other than a nearby stream and no electricity. Her family collected rainwater long before rainwater harvesting became one of the new “green” trends. She drives a Volkswagen Beetle with a diesel engine, which she feeds with biofuel. As much as possible, Holly eats food from local gardens and makes her own herbal remedies.

Here at ABC, Holly supervises the pharmacy and dietetic interns, which includes finding interesting and unusual field trips for them (e.g., visits to herb gardens other than those here at ABC, etc.). She also instructs interns on how to make their own simple herbal remedies. She has energized ABC’s volunteer program and handles numerous research questions sent by ABC members.

Holly’s responsibilities also include managing the ABC gardens, where she supervises volunteer and intern activities. (All interns at ABC get to spend 1 day per week working in the gardens.)

Holly is also in charge of maintaining ABC’s library and electronic literature database. She coordinates community outreach, as well as visitor support, including educational programs and garden tours for the general public, garden clubs, student groups, and others.

Holly sums up her philosophy as follows: “I believe that education is power, and that it is going to take immense power to remedy the collective human impact on the environment. My hope is to teach and inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle that is in balance with the environment at large. In particular, I hope that our interns and volunteers will learn to appreciate herbs and learn how to use them for their personal health and for the health of their patients or families. I hope that some will be inspired to grow their own medicine by creating herb gardens at home. I hope that they will develop an appreciation for plants as a whole.”

Holly is the kind of person who is well-suited for her role at ABC. Her deep and vibrant passion for all things natural, her love of plants, her keen interest in natural healing, and her sensitivity to environmental issues, as well as her many other interests and passions, have created a new level of positive energy for all of us here at ABC, as well as for our local, regional, and other stakeholders with whom she comes into contact.

—Mark Blumenthal