Beauty and Brains: Research Institute BRIT to Manage the Fort Worth Botanic Garden

The combined expertise of the partners will create one of the leading public gardens in America, says Botanic Garden Director Bob Byers.

fort worth botanical garden collaborative partnership with BRIT

In what it called “a historic vote,” the Fort Worth City Council today approved a 20-year agreement for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (best known by its acronym, BRIT) to manage the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. 

After years of study, task force recommendations, and public involvement, the new agreement builds on a successful collaborative partnership built over the past several years and will ensure the garden’s long-term sustainability, according to a post by BRIT’s Chris Smith.


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“We’re excited by the potential of working together with the staff, patrons, and supporters of the Botanic Garden to make it an even greater resource and attraction for our City and the North Texas region,” Ed Schneider, president of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas said.

BRIT’s Board of Directors saw an opportunity for growth and improvement with both organizations working together. The successful public-private partnership between the City and Fort Worth Zoo also offered a roadmap, BRIT noted.

“Our plant-based missions have always aligned, and after the positive synergy from previous partnership efforts, we saw this agreement as a natural fit,” Greg Bird, chair of the BRIT Board said.

“The Fort Worth Zoo transforming into one of the nation’s top zoos also provided a model that we intend to build upon as we envision a future world-class botanic garden.”

Botanic Garden Director Bob Byers agrees, saying the timing was right and the staff is excited by the potential for growth by working even more closely with BRIT.

“There’s a brighter future on the horizon with this agreement,” Byers said. “Bringing together BRIT’s fundraising, education, and world-class research capabilities with the Garden’s historically significant grounds, event facilities, and horticultural expertise will create one of the leading public gardens in America.”

BRIT, an international scientific research and learning center, has a mission to conserve our natural-world heritage by sharing knowledge of the plant world and helping the public understand the value plants bring to life.

Founded in 1987 and housed on two floors of a turn-of-the-century warehouse in downtown Fort Worth, the research institute serves as a think tank and a catalyst in conservation. The organization was originally incorporated as a non-profit organization to house the Southern Methodist University herbarium, which consists of some 450,000 specimens and a library from Lloyd H. Shinners, an influential 20th century Texas botanist.

BRIT has current major projects that are ongoing in Texas, Oklahoma, and in Southeastern US, as well as in Mexico, Belize, China, and the Philippines, it states. BRIT also supports botanical solutions to address challenging problems around the world, ranging from pollution clean-up to sustainable food sources.

The agreement to manage the Botanic Garden is planned to go into effect Oct. 1, according to BRIT, but might be delayed if COVID-19 disaster declarations continue into the autumn months.

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