In 2006, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens built a significant addition: The Tropical Forest Conservatory, which stands as the most sustainable conservatory in the world. The multilevel exhibit combines educational enrichment with a first-hand look at the plants of the featured tropical forest. The exhibit space currently features the tropical forests of India, and in 2015, will feature the biodiversity hotspots of Western and Central Africa. Two staff members, Ben and Jordyn, are heading to the forests of Cameroon to research the region’s natural resources, ecosystems, and culture. Their research will be used to create an authentic representation through replication of the studied biodiversity regions and educational interpretation of the cultural aspects. Follow the blog through Cameroon and beyond.
Ben Dunigan is the Curator of Horticulture here at Phipps Conservatory. He oversees the design, installation, and daily horticultural care of the Tropical Forest Conservatory at Phipps. He is interested in tropical forest biology, ethnobotany, and educating people about the values of preserving biodiversity especially in these important regions. He received his degree in Plant Sciences from Cornell University and has been with Phipps for seven years.
Jordyn Melino is the Exhibit Coordinator for the horticultural displays. She coordinates, plans, and oversees designs for the seasonal flower shows and other changing exhibits, and works with Ben on designing the interpretive aspects of the Tropical Forest exhibits. She holds great value in the design aspect of human interaction with the environment. Jordyn received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently finishing her Master of Landscape Architecture at Chatham University.