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Congratulations to Chipper Wichman, recipient of GCA’s Medal of Honor, 2018

26 April 2018

NTBG Director to Receive Garden Club of America Award 

Chipper Wichman named GCA’s 2018 Medal of Honor Recipient

Kalāheo, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i USA (April 25, 2018) — The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) is pleased to announce that The Garden Club of America (GCA) has named Charles R. “Chipper” Wichman, President, Director, and Chief Executive Officer of the institution, as the recipient of its 2018 Medal of Honor. The medal, which is awarded for outstanding service to horticulture, will be presented following a black tie reception at the GCA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco on April 29, 2018. 

Wichman was selected as the GCA’s 2018 Medal of Honor recipient after being nominated for the award by the Garden Club of Honolulu whose president Jann Boxold described Wichman as a “global leader in conservation and horticulture who has dedicated his life to the discovery and conservation of tropical plants and the protection of their habitats.”

With Wichman’s selection as the recipient of the 2018 GCA Medal of Honor, NTBG becomes the only botanical garden in which two of its staff have received the prestigious award. In 2016, Dr. Diane Ragone, Director of NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute received the GCA Medal of Honor for her work with breadfruit to address global hunger. 

The special nature of this dual recognition was not lost on Wichman. “It is really quite extraordinary to have two leaders from the same organization receive this prestigious award just two years apart. That really says something about the impact the NTBG is having on the world,” said Wichman. “Several of my heroes and mentors in horticulture and botany have received this award — women and men who made significant contributions to advancing our understanding and appreciation of the natural world through horticulture,” he added. 

Renowned botanist Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, FRS, VMH praised Wichman for developing NTBG into an important resource for conservation, research, and education. Prance said he was delighted to see Wichman receive the GCA’s Medal of Honor. “This is well-deserved and a tribute to the way in which Chipper has developed NTBG during his time as the Director.”

The Garden Club of America’s Medal of Honor is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the world through their work in horticulture and botany. Between 1920 and 1956, the GCA Medal of Honor was award just ten times including its presentation to Henry Francis DuPont, a founding member of NTBG’s Board of Trustees. 

In 1949 the Medal was presented to legendary botanist and explorer David Fairchild who himself advocated for the establishment of a national botanical garden in Hawai‘i. In 1975, the Medal was awarded to Harold St. John, a legend in Hawai‘i botanical circles. Following the presentation of the Medal to Dr. Diane Ragone of NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute in 2016, the second presentation to the director of the same organization two years later is unprecedented.

National Tropical Botanical Garden ( is a not-for-profit, non-governmental institution with nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in Hawai‘i and Florida. The institution’s mission is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions. NTBG is supported primarily through donations and grants.

To find out more about Chipper Wichman’s career, please read the full press release


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