Video: Jay Potter

Students on the Garden Ambassadors team in Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Learning by Leading program came up with the idea for the Gratitude Project in summer 2020, as a means to promote mindfulness and wellbeing during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We envisioned the Gratitude Project as an interactive outdoor space inviting introspection, where visitors could leave behind a message of gratitude or hope. We launched the Gratitude Project in summer 2021, with a focus on fostering reflection on how plants and nature enrich our lives. A sign at the entrance to the Willow Hut in the Pounder Vegetable Garden, where the installation is located, prompts visitors to reflect on their own relationship with plants and the natural world, with questions such as, “Why are you grateful for plants and nature?” and “Is there a particular plant you have a special connection with?” Visitors’ messages articulate gratitude for biodiversity, touch on memories involving nature and favorite plants, contribute to a peaceful environment, and create a strong sense of place.

Messages are meant to be impermanent and will weather. Visitors are encouraged to come back to the site and leave another. In the future, we hope to expand this project to include multiple installations throughout the Botanic Gardens and Arboretum. Although the installation will go on hiatus during the winter months, it remains through November and returns with the spring.

Learning by Leading

Cultivating a new generation of environmental leaders through stewardship, co-creation, and sense of place.

Garden Ambassadors

This team is dedicated to outreach, engagement, and informal education.

Keeping Time with Changing Seasons

A kinetic installation of hanging sculptures located in the Nevin Welcome Center.