By Sonja Skelly

Cornell Botanic Gardens embraces and actively works to increase diversity among all the communities with which we engage—Cornell students, faculty, and staff, visitors, supporters, its employees, and its plant collections. We envision a world where biological and cultural diversity are respected, sustained and celebrated. We cemented our commitment to that vision with our name change in 2016, and our new mission and vision that embrace biocultural diversity and conservation. Our Strategic Plan established a road map for our organization to lead public gardens and conservation stakeholders in advancing biological and cultural diversity through programs, initiatives, and priorities.  ‘We envision a world where biological and cultural diversity are respected, sustained and celebrated.

We share Cornell University’s commitment to combat biases in all forms and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging. Many resources for advancing anti-racism, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other biases due to religion are available at the university’s D&I resources page.

Steps taken to achieve diversity and inclusion goals

Moments of Connection

Cultivating Connection Through Plants with Colah B Tawkin

Colah B Tawkin, founder of the Black in the Garden podcast, visited Cornell and hosted a series of events focused on the celebratory uses of plants in Black cultures.


Seeds of Survival and Celebration returns to honor Black history, knowledge, and culture

The exhibition returns with an expanded plant collection, more stories, and vernacular garden features reflective of African American culture.

In the News

Akwe:kon Garden Hopes to Heal and Honor Indigenous Students

Cornell Daily Sun— August 31, 2023

A new garden developed in collaboration with Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Learning by Leading program, offers Indigenous students a place for healing and belonging.


Cultural Connection

Ripples of lavender honor Pride month

A rich bouquet of flowers found throughout Cornell’s Botanic Gardens hold meaning for the LGBTQ+ community, which has long embraced the six colors of the rainbow: red for life; orange for healing; yellow for sunlight; green for nature; indigo for serenity; violet for spirit.


Collaboration brings healing, honoring garden to Akwe:kon

A new garden at Akwe:kon, established by students from the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and Cornell Botanic Gardens, aims to honor Indigenous students and their connection to the land.


Seeds of Survival and Celebration

This garden and exhibit tell stories of the deep connections of the formerly enslaved to plants and illustrate their contributions to the cuisines enjoyed across American society today.


Acclaimed artist brings forth student poetry

Cornell students in The Art of Horticulture course blended nature and sensory experience to create poetry in a workshop led by Nigerian-American artist Precious Okoyomon.


Collaboration plants seeds for cultural, biological conservation

A campus collaboration with the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ (Cayuga Nation) seeks to conserve biodiversity and simultaneously safeguard human cultural values and traditions.


Art and exhibits illustrate hope for climate resilience

Art, exhibits, and emerging knowledge come together at Cornell Botanic Gardens to express the ways in which Indigenous and rural communities around the world are adapting to disruptions caused by the climate crisis.


Carolyn Finney: 2020 Vision, A Black Walden Pond & Other Musings

Dr. Finney explores the complexities and contradictions of American history as it relates to green space and race.


Botanic Gardens mural nurtures connections with plants

Cornell Botanic Gardens has unveiled a new outdoor art installation: a two-story mural, created in […]


Veterans honored at Cornell Botanic Gardens

Explore some of the places at Cornell Botanic Gardens that recognize the service of veterans across generations.

Alumni Diversity Leaders at Cornell Botanic Gardens

Snacks (Alumni Affairs and Development news)—June 16, 2022

During Reunion 2022, Matt Palumbo ’83, president of the Cornell Asian Alumni Association, coordinated a meeting with fellow alumni diversity leaders to set preliminary plans to engage more diverse alumni with the botanic gardens.

Cultural Connection

Sassafras: Native gem of North America

Sassafras is a North American tree steeped in Indigenous culture throughout its range within deciduous woodlands of the northeast and southeast United States.


Verdant Views: Anti-racism in the Outdoors

How to make natural spaces more open and welcoming to people of color.


Cornell Botanic Gardens brings new Cayuga language class to life

Class instructor Stephen Henhawk, Cayuga speaker and historian, discussed his class in this three-minute video.


Ornithologist to speak on increasing diversity in conservation

Ornithologist J. Drew Lanham will talk about how conservation efforts benefit from racial diversity among those who advocate for conserving the natural world.


‘Sioux Chef’ on restoring indigenous foods, bridging cultures

Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Fall Lecture Series hosted Sean Sherman, founder/CEO of The Sioux Chef, described the connections between indigenous food systems, food security, and health.


Cornell Botanic Gardens celebrates Mexica/Aztec connections to plants and foods, and the love of chocolate

Mexica/Aztec artist, storyteller, musician featured in O’Connor Lecture and entertains at the Chocolatada!


Verdant Views: Global Climate Stories, 2022

In honor of Earth Day 2022, international students at Cornell share stories of the challenges they face in their home countries.

Painting on a living canvas: Summer internship reveals creative beauty at Cornell Botanic Gardens

CornellCALS—September 4, 2018
Alex Schaef ’20, describes his summer internship at Cornell Botanic Gardens and how it inspired him to create art daily and potentially as his career.


A Botanist in China

Supporting planning for the Yellow & Bohai Sea World Heritage site in China is one of the ways in which Cornell Botanic Gardens is addressing global conservation issues.

Past Exhibit

“Invisible Blue” Watercolors by Eder Muniz

Fifteen vibrant water color paintings by the artist who created the new magical mural behind the Nevin Welcome Center.


A “Walk” in the Garden: A Virtual Visit for the LGBTQ+ Community

Unwind and experience nature virtually, and learn more about Cornell Botanic Gardens in this pre-recorded webinar for LGBTQ+ community.


Go ‘Wild at Cornell’ with artist, plant stylist Hilton Carter

Artist, interior designer and plant stylist Hilton Carter will inspire audiences to transform their living spaces into green landscapes in “Wild at Cornell,” the Cornell Botanic Gardens’ William J. Hamilton Lecture.


Words Before All Else

Learn more about the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ people by watching and listening to Steve Henhawk, a Cayuga speaker and historian.


Statement on Racism, Violence, and Hope

Our only hope for resilience, and path to meet our need to adapt, grow, and flourish lies in the diversity of people, plants, and all living creatures.

Statement on Anti-Asian Violence

Along with the campus community, we denounce acts of racism, violence and hatred, and stand firmly with our Asian and Asian American friends and colleagues.