Botanic gardens organization adds board members

November 21, 2022

Delaware Botanic Gardens announced  Michael E. Riska has joined its board of directors.

DBG President Ray Sander said, “Mike Riska has been a member of the DBG advisory council since its earliest days. His outstanding leadership as executive director of the Delaware Nature Society covered the full range of environmental issues. Mike has been a great asset to DBG, and even more now as a DBG board member. Welcome, Mike.”

Riska holds a master’s degree in natural science from the University of Delaware and served as a science educator in Delaware for over 50 years.

During his tenure leading the Delaware Nature Society from 1984 to 2011, endowments grew from $300,000 to $18 million, and he oversaw program expansion to 35 staff members and 1,000 volunteers. Over the years, Riska held positions as associate professor for the University of Delaware, teaching courses for teachers in environmental education, and planning curriculums and special programs for Delaware youth. He has been honored with several achievement awards, including the Nature Conservancy Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2014 National Wildlife Federation Special Achievement Award for extraordinary contribution to the conservation of wildlife and natural resource.

David Small, DBG advisory council chair, announced two new members are Carol Bason and Elizabeth Rives. He said, “The DBG advisory council is a group of distinguished thought leaders who have brought their extensive knowledge, insights and experience to the DBG mission of creating a world-class public garden in Delaware. I welcome Carol Bason and Elizabeth Rives to our advisory council team. They both, as longtime DBG volunteer leaders, bring that special experience to the table.”

Bason holds advanced degrees in biology/environmental science and public policy.  Over the past five years, she served as a volunteer science advisor at Delaware Botanic Gardens, where she has provided research, marketing and development support. With her expertise in government contracting, she brought to DBG six state-funded environmental grants in stormwater management best practices that created the Rhyne Garden, the living shoreline, and the green technology demonstrations at the restroom facility.

Rives graduated from the University of Virginia and holds a graduate certificate in natural history field studies from the Audubon Naturalist Society. She served as a financial services, communications and policy professional for most of her career, and later worked as an environmental educator and communications specialist at the National Park Service. She has been a volunteer at Delaware Botanic Gardens since 2018, serving as a docent, tour guide and project leader for the woodland tree and shrub inventory.

Sheryl Swed, DBG executive director, said, “The dedication and inspirational leadership of Mike Riska at Delaware Nature Society brings new insight to the board. We are also indebted to Carol Bason and Elizabeth Rives, who both bring so much dedication and personal community service to the advisory council. Together, Mike, Carol and Elizabeth have helped DBG become a reality. We welcome them in their new roles.”

The gardens will close for the season at 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, and will reopen Thursday, March 16. New features will include 144,000 spring bulbs in bloom in the Piet Oudolf Meadow Garden, with an additional 57,500 plants and spring bulbs in the Folly and other gardens.

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