New President for the Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

17 November 2021

We’re delighted to welcome Mr Ed McAlister to his new role as President of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.

Whilst new to the role, Ed is no stranger to the Gardens.

His history dates back to 1979 when he took up the position of Horticultural Botanist, in charge of the section responsible for checking the identification of all plants within the three botanic gardens. He held this position until May 1981 when he was appointed as Assistant Director.

His most memorable achievements while working in the Gardens were overseeing the reconstruction of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden after the devastating fires of 1983, and being appointed as the Garden’s representative on the team building the Bicentennial Conservatory.

Ed has also been involved with the Friends of Adelaide Botanic Garden for almost 43 years.

In 1991 Ed was appointed Chief Executive for the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, a position he held until January 2006, leading the Zoo through major greening projects, opening Monarto Zoological Park to the public, and increasing the conservation role of the Society.

In 2003, Ed was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) for services to conservation. He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Adelaide and is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of New England.

We would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Merilyn Kutchel OAM for her work over her four year term as President.

Merilyn received her OAM in 2018 for services to horticultural education and leadership in garden organisations.

Her fellow committee members said, “On becoming president in 2017, Merilyn’s positive and collaborative management style ensured the continued successful functioning of Friends.

“She represented the membership and spoke from the heart, pleading for consideration of Adelaide Botanic Garden during the Lot 14 debate.”

“Merilyn instigated events such as the Friends’ involvement in Open Gardens, and in the recent City of Adelaide Flower Day. She also initiated more lunch-time meetings to accommodate our ageing demographic.

“She used her network of gardening media and contacts to continually promote the Friends and Adelaide’s three Botanic Gardens to a wider community. This was a huge asset during COVID times when her calm and articulate manner guided us through the upheavals and restrictions of 2020-21”.

We are delighted that Merilyn will continue to be engaged with the gardens in her capacity as a Friends committee member.

Thank you Merilyn, and welcome back Ed.

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