Coastal Maine Botanical Garden Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture Program Evaluation

November 15th, 2023 | EVALUATION

We worked with Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to evaluate a suite of programs for horticulture professionals intended to strengthen sustainable horticultural and landscaping practices in Maine.


Kera Collective conducted two rounds of program evaluation to understand the experience and impact of Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s (CMBG) Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture programs, which vary in format from standalone lectures to multi-session certificate courses.

Like many cultural organizations, CMBG adapted its program offerings in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of its Advanced Studies programs paused or transitioned to fully-online formats. This evaluation provided an opportunity to better understand the Advanced Studies audiences’ current motivations, needs, and experiences in these programs, as well as to inform potential shifts in program format and marketing in the future. 


 We designed a two-phase evaluation:

  • A formative evaluation using post-program surveys to understand participants’ experiences and perspectives 
  • A summative evaluation using remote interviews to provide rich, descriptive accounts of program experiences and impacts 

Client Takeaways 

Overall, CMBG’s Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture program is successful in supporting the intended outcomes for participants, but there are still ways to strengthen the program experience and build community among participants. For example, participants reported expanding their awareness and knowledge of sustainable practices in horticulture and, significantly, more than one-half reported applying new sustainable practices in their professional or personal lives after participating in a program. 

Moreover, we found that participants in the Advanced Studies courses were beginning to make connections with one another during programs through group discussions and chat conversations, but these interactions were often fleeting and hard to maintain after the program. To better support this intended outcome, we suggested some low-effort ways that CMBG could start to help participants build community during and after participating in a program.



Team Members

Katie Chandler, Evaluator, Kera Collective


Funding Source: IMLS
Award Number: MA-249366-OMS-21
Funding Amount: $249,422


Audience: Adults | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Nature of science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Park | Outdoor | Garden Programs | Parks | Outdoor | Garden Exhibits | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops