Landis Portraits: Karl Gustafson

By Nolan Marciniec

Karl Gustafson became familiar with the Landis Arboretum, on paper at least, while working for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Last spring curiosity got the better of him, and he met with Executive Director Fred Breglia at Landis. Looking at the Schoharie Valley (“breathtaking,” he said) from the deck of the Meeting House, Karl admitted that it was love at first sight and wondered why it took him so long to make that first visit.

As one visit led to another: the Fall Plant Sale, the Halloween Owl Prowl, a wine tasting, Karl confessed he was hooked. He offered his marketing expertise as a way of volunteering, then joined the Board of Trustees in January and agreed to chair the Arboretum’s Marketing Committee.

He avows that he is now passionate about Landis. He hopes that he and his committee can get the word out and dispel the notion of the Arboretum as a “best kept secret.” “If people visit just one time, this place sells itself,” he maintains.

While there is a lot to advertise, two things impressed him most. First, the educational opportunities the Arboretum affords -- not only the range of classes and workshops, but also the wealth of knowledge intrinsic in the Landis volunteers. Second, the Arboretum’s beauty. He recounted that first visit and the overwhelming, calming effect it had on him. “Most people’s lives nowadays move at a breakneck pace,” he said and then asked, “Who wouldn’t benefit from slowing down time and spending a few hours in nature? How can you put a price tag on that?”

Karl and his wife, Kim, live in Canajoharie. Their son, Karl Jr., is a sophomore at Hartwick College in Oneonta. Karl conceded that he did not possess a green thumb, but was hoping that by spending more time at the Arboretum, some gardening talent might rub off on him! His other interests are golfing, stock car racing, snowmobiling – and “planning for retirement.”

Currently, Karl is serving as Montgomery County’s Director of Labor Management, but his résumé includes a lifetime of experience with State and local governments. He anticipates that the skills that he’s honed over the years will stand the Arboretum in good stead. His goal is to work with the Board and his committee to “open the door and welcome guests to the Arboretum.” He is confident that just one visit will make a difference in a person’s life.

After all, it did in his.

Summer 2015

Volume 33 , Number 3

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