On one recent occasion, Scott Jackson brought his 7‑year-old daughter to one of the Arboretum’s ponds. “There was so much going on: frogs, tadpoles, mosquito larvae,” he said. “She could have stayed there for hours. It was fun to see her imagination working. And it made me see too, things that I take for granted .… it opened my eyes again.”
Since then, both of his young daughters attended the introduction to honeybees class – brimming with curiosity and questions.
It was also curiosity that initially brought Scott to the Arboretum. Having seen the signs for the Arboretum while driving to Cooperstown, he came back to hike some of the trails and noted the Arboretum’s venerable Great Oak. Then Anne Donnelly’s dragonflies and damselflies workshop. Then membership. Then volunteering at the spring and fall plant sales. Then a list of events to put on the calendar for the future, including the star parties and the Full Moon Concert series.
“A neat spot for people to learn something,” he noted. And, for many like Scott, to give in return for those lessons.
It was Scott who installed the wooden floor in the Welcome Center, making that space certainly more welcoming than its former gravel floor. He donated his time and talents. “That’s what volunteers do,” he insisted. “Volunteering means you’re involved – you’re part of an organization. And an organization is a community. People who feel the same way as you.” He said he realized that places like Landis couldn’t exist without volunteers like those who painted the barn and those who worked to rehab the greenhouse.
A man who confesses that he loves trees, he tries to teach his daughters the names of trees.
Scott’s own natural curiosity began growing up in Fayetteville, NY, near Parker’s Peony Farm, 25 acres planted with alternate rows of peonies and lilacs. Even as a child, he was awed by the beauty in the spring. When the farm was leased to Agway, he worked there, learning “an appreciation for plants.” He enrolled in an arboriculture program at SUNY Farmingdale for a while, but life took him in a different direction. While landscaping on Martha’s Vineyard, he was given an opportunity to refine his carpentry and masonry skills and to go off-island to disassemble and reassemble old post-and-beam homes. Subsequently, he completed the Building Conservation program at RPI. He now works as an independent carpenter from his Albany home, specializing in historic restoration.
Landis Arboretum, he said, “is a different world. It’s one of those places I’m comfortable, where my mind is at ease .… It’s one of those places to go when you have nothing to do or have troubles on your mind. To bring kids – there are an endless number of reasons.”
Above all, Landis is a place to learn. To learn about nature. To learn about community. To learn gratitude – about giving and receiving. To have your eyes opened again.