Celebrating New Jersey Horticultural Therapy Week

By Pat Newman

The best Horticulture Therapists don’t just lead a program and provide resources and ideas; they also generate enthusiasm for the subject and an abiding interest in further involvement. Lee Shahay, Horticulture Specialist at Parker, has been precisely this type of leader for our growing horticulture program.

Parker recognizes Lee for sharing her passion and talents during New Jersey Horticulture Therapy Week, March 18-24th. Since 2015, the 3rd week of March has been set aside to raise awareness of Horticulture Therapy in our state, and the many benefits and value it can provide for people of all ages.
Lee’s passion for all things related to nature ensures older adults experience joy and success in horticulture programs. She adapts and modifies gardening equipment and tools to engage older adults and ensure success.  Lee brings nature to those who have limited access to the outdoors. Her programs nurture and inspire Parker’s residents and program participants. She collaborates with recreation specialists throughout all of Parker’s locations to provide elders and participants with engaging, educational and enjoyable horticulture programs.  Lee is passionate about her work and dedicated to expanding horticultural therapy as a recognized therapeutic approach for older adults.

Recently, Lee planned Parker’s entry in the New Jersey Flower Show to showcase the work of our residents in Parker at Stonegate, Parker at River Road, Parker at Landing Lane, and participants in Parker Adult Day Center. Preparation begins months before as Lee guides each group in deciding what and how to create a display to coordinate with the annual flower show theme. Each group brings the ideas to life as they create arrangements for the display.  The four arrangements were combined into one magnificent entry, which was awarded an Honorable Participation Ribbon for the third year in a row.

The highlight of the project for our “gardeners” was a trip to the New Jersey Flower Show at the Raritan Convention Center in February to see their display in person and to interact with other entrants.

Lee, a member of Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Therapy Network, keeps up to date with current horticulture therapy practices and continues her professional development in horticulture by taking courses at the New York Botanical Garden, and at local gardens and nurseries. She continues to build her skills as an educator, organizer, and overall inspiration through her thoughtful and creative horticulture programs offered throughout Parker.

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