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Peter Wyse Jackson awarded Distinguished Service Medal from the Garden Club of America

8 May 2017


Peter Wyse Jackson, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden, received one of the highest honors bestowed by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Distinguished Service Medal.  The award, presented to Wyse Jackson at the GCA’s annual meeting in Baltimore on Saturday, recognizes exceptional service in the field of horticulture.

In honoring Wyse Jackson, the GCA hailed him as “one of the world’s foremost and best-known botanists and plant conservationists” and a “leading voice for the entire field of public horticulture.”

For the past two decades, Wyse Jackson has played an influential role in reshaping and leading the international botanic garden community.  He has worked extensively with botanic gardens and their network organizations worldwide, helping to establish or develop botanic gardens and other organizations in more than 30 countries.  He played a lead role in the development and implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, adopted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002, and has been chairman of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation since 2004.  He was co-author of the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, now endorsed by some 500 botanic gardens.  They collaborate to collect, conserve and cultivate samples from the world’s plants as an insurance policy against their extinction in the wild.

Under Wyse Jackson’s leadership, the Missouri Botanical Garden has become “the world's most vibrant, effective and influential institution for science-based plant conservation,” according to the GCA.  Among his achievements are establishing a seed bank and conservation genetics laboratory and launching international programs in ecological restoration, rare plant propagation, conservation biology and genetics, global change and economic botany, all staffed with world experts.  In addition, Wyse Jackson initiated a plant systematics project, the World Flora Online Consortium, to prepare an online flora of the world, intended to be the definitive source of knowledge on Earth’s plant diversity by 2020.

Born in Kilkenny, Ireland, Wyse Jackson obtained bachelor and master’s degrees in botany from Trinity College Dublin, where he subsequently obtained a doctoral degree for work on the taxonomy of Irish cruciferae.  In 1981, he was appointed administrator of the Trinity College Dublin Botanic Garden.  In 1987, Wyse Jackson moved to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew to join the staff of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, where he helped to establish the international network for botanic gardens that became Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  In 1994, he was appointed secretary general of that organization, a role he held for 18 years.  In 2005, Wyse Jackson returned to Dublin as director of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland.  In 2010, he was appointed to his present position at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Wyse Jackson also serves as the George Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis.

The GCA’s Distinguished Service Medal was endowed in 1953 by Priscilla Sleeper Sterling (1920-2011), a member of the Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club (both in New Hampshire).  While her primary interest was conservation, she believed that horticulture played an integral part in the quality of life.  Elizabeth Rhodes Reynolds designed the medal.  Previous recipients have included topiary artist Harvey S. Ladew (1971), Florence L. Reed, founder of Sustainable Harvest (2009) and Jane Pepper, former president of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society (2013).  Ladue Garden Club of St. Louis, member of the GCA, nominated Wyse Jackson for the award.


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About the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 158 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.

About the Garden Club of America
The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 200 clubs with nearly 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States.  Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement.  (

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