Welcome to the 2022 AIB Symposium & Awards Celebration – Embracing Our Past … Enhancing Our Future

Watch here to learn of the 2022 Award Winners.

Dwight Lund Community Champion Award: Sue Burke, Portsmouth, Ohio

Eye-Popping Pots – Best Use of Containers in the Landscape (sponsored by Crescent Garden): Coshocton, Ohio

Best Public Art Program: Omaha, Nebraska Downtown Improvement District

Water Warriors – Best Example of Protecting Water Resources: Dyer, Indiana

Bee Happy – Best Pollinator Habitat: Logan, Ohio

Coolest Place for Kids (sponsored by Sporticulture and Walnut Springs Nursery): Portsmouth, Ohio

What’s Old is New Again – Best Adaptive Resue Project: Westchester, Illinois

Coolest Downtown (sponsored by Bob’s Market and Greenhouses): Greenwood, South Carolina

Best Youth Gardening Program (sponsored by Griffin Greenhouse Supplies)

Life of the Party – Best Community Celebration

Catching Community Spirit – Digital & Social Media Communications (sponsored by Rocket Digital)

Best Community Garden Program

AIB/All-America Selections Showcase Garden (sponsored by All-America Selections)

Innovation in Action – Most Impressive New Project or Program

Alive with Flowers – Sunbeam Award Sponsored by Suntory

YouTube People’s Choice Award (sponsored by Neal Mast Greenhouses)

Community Vitality Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Jack’s Fertilizers)

Environmental Efforts Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Blackmore Company)

Flowers Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company)

Celebrating Heritage Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Meister Media)

Landscaped Areas Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Proven Winners)

Overall Impression Outstanding Achievement Award

Urban Forestry Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts)

Community Involvement Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by American Horticultural Society)

Under 2,000 Population Category

2,000 – 5,000 Population Category

5,000 – 11,000 Population Category

11,000 – 14,000 Population Category

14,000 – 18,000 Population Category

18,000 – 23,000 Population Category

23,000 – 35,000 Population Category

More than 35,000 Population Category

Welcome to St. Louis and Washington, Missouri

It is with great excitement that we welcome you to Washington, Missouri for the 2022 America in Bloom Symposium & Awards Celebration. Our city, also known as the Corn Cob Pipe Capital of the World, was founded in 1839 by Lucinda Owens. Located on the southern bank of the Missouri River, it was the gentle rolling hills that attracted the early German settlers to the area in 1833 as it reminded them of their homeland along the Rhine. Today, Washington is the largest city in Franklin County and many believe our German heritage has fostered this distinction. We are a community with tremendous pride and the willingness to work hard to accomplish our goals. Some of our highlights include being recognized with the Great American Main Street Award in 2012, home to the Washington Town and Country Fair, the third largest fair in the state of Missouri, and an award-winning Volunteer Fire Department.

On Friday of the symposium, we will host you for the day in Washington. This will give you a chance to visit some of our beautiful parks, plus learn about projects of the Garden Club, Master Gardeners, and other civic groups. You will also experience the sites and businesses in our historic downtown, culminating with a special Farm to Table dinner on Main Street in front of the restored Farmers Market building.

The City of Washington has raised the aesthetic bar of our community since participating in America in Bloom. This has driven redevelopment efforts throughout the city including the downtown area, new retail destinations along the Highway 100 corridor, and expansion of local industries. The efforts of Washington in Bloom have showcased our community and assured “outside” interests that our City is a wise place to invest their resources.

Washington is a just a one-hour drive from St. Louis, where you will be based at a downtown hotel in the shadow of the majestic Gateway Arch. St. Louis is also home to the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden which boasts the largest Japanese Garden in North America. Forest Park, in the heart of the city, includes the world class St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, and remnants of the 1904 World’s Fair. It is also home to one of the nation’s premier outdoor theaters, the Muny Opera.

We look forward to hosting you in Missouri and think you’ll agree that we are Embracing Our Past and Enhancing Our Future.


The AIB Washington, Missouri Committee – Team WashMO

Wayne Dunker, Director of Parks and Recreation

Sally Bocklage, Co-Chair

Dave Wehmeyer, Co-Chair

Joe Holtmeier

Tyler King

Sandy Lucy, former Mayor

Deaneal McAfoos

Chad Owens

John Steffens

Emily Underdown

John Vietmeier

Josh Wargo

Casey Warren

Carolyn Witt

National AIB Symposium Committee

Linda Hart (Chair)

Sally Bocklage

Bill Hahn

Lori Kelly

Kristin Pategas

Stephen Pategas

Diane Rinkes

Dave Wehmeyer

Thursday, Sept 29  
9:30 AM – 2:30 PM Missouri Botanical Garden & Tower Grove Park (SOLD OUT)
10 AM – 3 PM Forest Park – A Premier Urban Public Park (Special Registration Required)
Afternoon Silent Auction Opens
4 – 5:30 PM Elected Leaders and City Administrators Roundtable
5:30 – 7 PM Opening Night Reception Overlooking the St. Louis Arch
7 – 10 PM Community Connections Celebration & Silent Auction
Friday, Sept 30  
7:15 – 8 AM Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation 
8 – 9 AM Welcome & Keynote Presentation: Beautification’s Impact on Property Values
9 – 9:30 AM Nature Playscapes: Turning Outdoor Environments into Engaging and Educational Areas
9:30 – 10:30 AM Community Forum: Best Ideas
10:30 – 11 AM Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
11:15 AM – 9:30 PM Buses depart for afternoon and evening activities in Washington, Missouri
Saturday, Oct 1  
7:30 – 8:15 AM Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation
8:15 – 8:30 AM Planning for the Future: State of the Organization
8:30 – 9 AM Problem Solving America in Bloom Style
9 – 11 AM Meet with the Advisors
11 – 11:30 AM Right Plant, Right Place
11:30 AM – 12 PM Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
12 – 1 PM Lunch & Learn: Creating a Monumental Connection – The Benefits of Public/Private Partnerships
Afternoon Self-Guided Walking Tour of Citygarden, Kiener Plaza, and Gateway Arch Park
5:30 – 6:30 PM Closing Night Reception
6:30 – 9:30 PM Evening in Bloom: America in Bloom Awards Banquet

Registration Option 
Full conference registration – $415
Thursday AIB dinner and celebration ONLY – $175
Saturday AIB dinner and awards ONLY – $175

Pre-Tours: Enhance Your Experience
Missouri Botanical Garden & Tower Grove Park (Thursday) – SOLD OUT
Forest Park – A Premier Urban Public Park (Thursday) – $69

Register online HERE.

Save money by registering by September 5.

Cancellations made on our before September 5 will be refunded in full, minus a $25 processing fee.
Cancellations made after September 5 are non-refundable.


Hotel Reservations

Make your hotel reservations at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch by calling 314-655-1234. To receive the special AIB rate of $180/night plus tax for single or double occupancy, you must tell them you are with the America in Bloom group. Or you may reserve your room online at the AIB rate by going HERE.  Reservations must be made by September 5. 

The hotel, located at 315 Chestnut St, Louis, MO 63102, is approximately 20 minutes from St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Taxis, rental cars, limousines, and other transportation options are available from the airport. Visit www.flystl.com for information.

Download the full conference brochure.

Pre-Event Optional EDU Tours – Enhance Your Experience: Exclusive Opportunities for AIB Symposium Attendees. Special Registration Required.

Thursday, September 29

9:30 AM – 2:30 PM         Missouri Botanical Garden & Tower Grove Park (Special Registration Required)

This tour takes you to two of St. Louis’ prized gems. You will begin the day with a guided tour of the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is always beautiful, no matter the season. Discover the diversity of plants, get a glimpse of St. Louis history, and explore gardens that reflect a variety of cultures, styles, and traditions. In this tour, you will explore what’s truly in bloom around the Garden. Following the guided tour, you will enjoy lunch and then time on your own. Next, we head to Tower Grove Park, considered America’s best example of a Victorian Park. You’ll enjoy both a driving and guided tour of sections of this 289-acre park, including a tour of a stream that was recently daylighted for the first time in 100 years. This stream blends natural plantings, storm water management, experiential education, a natural play area for children, and elements that recognize the original inhabitants of the land. The cost is $79. Seating is limited so register early. See the registration form for details.

10 AM – 3 PM
                 Forest Park – A Premier Urban Public Park (Special Registration Required)

Forest Park is considered one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world. The Park’s 1,300 acres feature beautiful landscapes sprinkled with forests, ecosystems, nature reserves, lakes and streams, and five of the St. Louis region’s major cultural institutions. On this tour will get to experience it all! Forest Park, home of the 1904 World’s Fair, will serve as your outdoor learning lab for the day, in which you will visit various pre-arranged stations in the park to experience first-hand the connection of nature to our own well-being. Following a group lunch, you will then have free time to explore one of the four cultural institutions in the park – the art museum, science center, history museum, or zoo. The cost is $69. Seating is limited so register early. See the registration form for details.


Symposium Program

Thursday, September 29

Afternoon                           Silent Auction
The symposium kicks off with some competitive fun! Silent auction bidding begins in the afternoon and continues after the evening’s Community Connections Celebration.


4 PM                                     Elected Leaders and City Administrators Roundtable

America in Bloom is pleased to present an idea sharing and networking program designed exclusively for elected leaders and municipal administrators. Through peer-to-peer discussion, learn about the solutions communities are using to solve some of today’s challenges facing municipalities of all sizes. This roundtable is a must for all elected officials and municipal leaders. Refreshments and appetizers will be served. This roundtable will be hosted by former Washington, Missouri mayor Sandy Lucy.

5:30 PM
                              Opening Night Reception Overlooking the St. Louis Arch

Catch up with old friends and make new ones during this informal cash bar event. You’re in for a treat as this reception provides a majestic view of the iconic St. Louis Arch.

7 PM                                     Community Connections Celebration & Silent Auction

We kick off the Symposium with this dinner and celebration of your achievements. This is a time for food, fun, and recognition! Each AIB community will be honored for their efforts. All Dwight Lund Community Champion nominees will be honored and the winner announced. This is where we celebrate YOU and what YOUR community is doing to make America bloom!

9 PM                                     Dessert Reception & Silent Auction

Enjoy dessert while networking with your peers and making your final bids on the silent auction items.


Friday, September 30

7:15 AM                               Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation

Caffeine + conversation = great start to the day. Grab some coffee and converse with other AIB attendees and the Showcase of Innovation exhibitors. These companies feature innovative products and services relevant to your community.

8 AM
                                     Let’s Get Started!

AIB Symposium Chair Linda Hart and Washington, MO representatives will kick things off and prepare you for the days ahead.

8:15 AM                               Keynote Presentation: Beautification’s Impact on Property Values

Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University

One of your favorite symposium speakers is back! Dr. Charlie Hall continues his theme of providing information on the benefits of your In Bloom efforts. In past symposia, he focused on the economic, environmental, and health benefits of beautification. Now his attention turns to the positive impact beautification has on property values. These benefits are often overlooked by municipal leaders, so Charlie is going to equip you with the data to support your ongoing beautification efforts!

9 AM                                     Nature Playscapes: Turning Outdoor Environments into Engaging and Educational Areas

Shawnell Faber and Roman Fox, Forest Park

Recently open in St. Louis, the Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape is a 17-acre experiential play space with natural landscapes that includes native and diverse species throughout nine distinct activity areas. In this session, you will learn how nature playscapes can play an integral part in connecting your community’s kids to nature by engaging their senses as they explore, discover, and learn. Shawnell Faber, Director of Land Management, and Roman Fox, Superintendent of Horticulture at Forest Park Forever, will explain the planning, installation, care, and engagement of the Nature Playscape and how you can create something like this in your community.

9:30 AM                               Community Forum: Best Ideas

Facilitator: Sue Amatangelo, AIB Advisor

This popular hour-long interactive session will be packed with ideas you can take home and implement. Through roundtable discussions you will hear about solutions – big and small – that can help to transform your community. Come with your own best ideas to share!

10:30 AM                            Showcase of Innovation & Conversation

This networking break allows you to continue sharing ideas and meeting Showcase of Innovation companies.


11:15 AM                            Buses Depart for Washington, Missouri Adventure

Today you’ll get to experience the beauty of Washington, Missouri, a community that mixes hometown hospitality, heritage celebration, and beautiful landscapes.

12:15 PM                             Taste of Washington

First stop is lunch so you can fuel up for a great day in WashMo! You’ll buy your own lunch from a selection of local food trucks that will feature favorite cuisines from the area. There will be something for every palette and food connoisseur. We will dine together in the Main Park Pavilion, which will serve as our jumping off point for the rest of the day’s activities.

1:30 PM                                     Community Tour of Washington, Missouri

Today’s community tour showcases the beauty and hospitality of Washington, Missouri, a community sitting on the banks of the Missouri River. This “moving classroom” will showcase how Washington’s business, residential, and municipal sectors work together to create a community steeped in history but pushing to the future. When the tour brings you to the downtown area, you will have the opportunity to see the Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe Factory, browse and shop some very unique and lovely places (numerous merchants will remain open just for you), and there will also be interesting exhibits to learn more about Washington and inspire ideas to recreate back at your home.


5:30 PM                                     Reception

The Community Tour ends with a hosted reception and time for relaxation and conversation. Enjoy a happy hour celebration as you enjoy social time, music, and more WashMo hospitality.

6:30 PM                                     Farm-to-Table Dinner Hosted by the City of Washington

Dinner will be served al fresco in the heart of Washington’s historic public event space, on Main Street at the foot of a towering 180+ year-old parish church and anchored by the Farmer’s Market…a venue for City, Chamber, and Main Street organization events. This will be a special farm-to-table dinner. Your wine glass for the evening will become a souvenir keepsake reminder of the time we shared in Washington and throughout the AIB Symposium. Much advance preparation is taking place to ensure a lovely, unique, and special dining experience for you, our guest. Shall we set the table for you?

8:30 PM                               Buses Depart for Return to St. Louis

Saturday, October 1

 7:30 AM                               Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation

Caffeine + conversation = great start to the day. Grab some coffee and converse with other AIB attendees and the Showcase of Innovation exhibitors. These companies feature innovative products and services relevant to your community.

8:15 AM                               Planning for the Future: State of the Organization

Jack Clasen, AIB President and Laura Kunkle, AIB Executive Director

There are exciting changes happening at America in Bloom. This brief introduction to the future of AIB will give a glimpse into the ways we are striving to make even more of an impact in communities and what you can expect from us as we head into the new year.

8:30 AM                               Problem Solving America in Bloom Style

Facilitator: Linda Hart, AIB Symposium Chair

Put your thinking cap on for this problem-solving session. Together, we will explore creative ideas to help solve common issues facing communities. Prizes and surprises in store!

9 AM                     Meet with the Advisors

These sessions are set up so that each community can meet with Advisors and delegates from other AIB communities. Get excellent insight into the ordinary and extraordinary things towns and cities are doing across America. AIB Advisors will share what they saw during their visits to communities and how to enhance your town’s participation in AIB.

11 AM                   Right Plant, Right Place

It is critically important that we choose the right plants when enhancing the gardens, streetscapes, parks, medians, and natural landscapes within our communities. Each climate and soil type requires different considerations. Two plant experts will share their recommendations with us. Jeff Gibson of Ball Seed Company will address “Selecting the Right Annuals and Perennials.” Scott Jamieson of Bartlett Tree Experts share info on “Selecting the Right Trees.”

11:30 AM                            Showcase of Innovation & Conversation

This networking break allows you to continue sharing ideas and meeting Showcase of Innovation companies.

12 PM                                   Lunch & Learn: Creating a Monumental Connection – The Benefits of Public/Private Partnerships

This lunch and learn session provides background and information as you prepare for your afternoon adventure. Public/private partnerships are critical to community development. Maria Tsikalas of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation will share the strategies the Foundation used to bring together various partners to enhance the visitor experience of National Park and surrounding areas. Then Jeremy Sweat will share information about the park and his role as the Superintendent of the Gateway Arch National Park. We will also hear from park staff about the work it takes to operate and maintain the national park.

1 PM                     Self-Guided Walking Tour of Citygarden, Kiener Plaza, and the Gateway Arch National Park

The hotel is just steps from some St. Louis gems! In this self-guided and go-at-your own pace walking tour, you will visit Citygarden, an oasis in the heart of downtown. This one-mile stretch of largely uninterrupted green space features a vibrant and serene blend of lush plantings and internationally renowned sculptures with delights of water, stone, architecture, and design. Enjoy Kiener Plaza, a 2-block park featuring fountains, a playground, concert area, and inviting paths. Lastly, discover the 90-acre Gateway Arch National Park with the 630-foot monument as its most famous site. Here you can explore the miles of trails, visit the Arch Museum, and so much more.

5:30 PM                               Closing Night Reception

This final night cash bar reception allows you to mingle with old and new friends, swap contact information, and make plans to stay in touch.

6:30 PM                               Evening in Bloom: America in Bloom Awards Banquet

The anticipation goes into high gear with more food, fun, and awards. This final-night event shines the spotlight on the transformative efforts by AIB communities.

2023: September 28-30. Host city = Greenwood, South Carolina (hotel in Spartanburg, SC)

Interested in hosting a future symposium? Contact the America in Bloom office.

Sustained through Sponsorships

Through financial and in-kind sponsors, we can share the joy and importance of horticulture, community involvement, heritage preservation, and environmental efforts. Contributions support the annual National Awards Program, maintain our website, facilitate outreach activities, develop educational resources, host the Annual Educational Symposium and Awards, and send Advisors to all participating communities.