Garden Director Resigns


— The new executive director of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is leaving after only six months on the job.

Rae von Holdt says she has to return to Iowa.

“It’s due to personal reasons,” von Holdt said Tuesday. She plans to return to her home state at the end of the month.

“It’s some health reasons and some personal reasons,” von Holdt added. “It’s very hard for me to leave. I’m really sad to be leaving the garden.”

Botanical garden officials praised the work von Holdt has done so far, and stress she’ll be missed.

“She has done an awesome job for us,” said Walt Eilers, president of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. “We are very disappointed that she is leaving.”

“Rae was doing an excellent job in redoing our job descriptions and policies,” Eilers added. “She also helped to build momentum with the city government and garden groups. We regret that she made the personal decision to return to Iowa.”

Part of von Holdt’s decision to leave Fayetteville, Eilers noted, is to return to life with her husband who was not able to relocate to Arkansas.

The Botanical Garden intends to have a new leader named by Aug. 1, Eilers said.

“We’ve found that if your search is extended for too long, the best people move on and take another job before you can make them an offer,” Eilers said.

The Botanical Garden was opened in May 2008, with contributions from numerous individuals, foundations, the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Fayetteville. It’s operated by the nonprofit Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks.

The executive director’s salary is paid by a three-year $250,000 matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation.