New arboretum director takes on position Friday

Peter Moe was the interim director before being chosen for the position

Future director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Peter Moe, poses for a portrait on Sept. 13.

Meagan Lynch

Future director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Peter Moe, poses for a portrait on Sept. 13.

Ryan Faircloth

Growing up in Richfield, Minnesota, Peter Moe — soon-to-be director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum — often gardened with his mother.

His admiration for horticulture deepened in high school at one of his first jobs in the field: a garden center.

“I already knew I was interested in horticulture … and then I decided to enroll at the University of Minnesota in the horticulture science department,” Moe said. On Friday, Moe will become the director of the place where he worked as an undergraduate in 1973.

Brian Buhr, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, said he elected Moe, who was previously the interim director, because of his experience with the arboretum, and his horticulture background.

“His learning curve is virtually zero,” Buhr said.

He said one challenge for Moe will be maintaining the qualities that draw people to the arboretum.

“He’s got his hands full with both that managerial side, and then how do you move programmatically ahead,” Buhr said.

Moe said while keeping up the arboretum’s grounds is a priority for him, he’s also looking toward new projects.

One of those projects, the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center, will be opening Sunday.

The center will provide education and outreach on bee research through means such as classes and interactive exhibits, Moe said.

“We’ll be offering programs about how important bees and other pollinators are for K-12 classes, as well as adults and even professional bee keepers,” he said.

In addition to overseeing the new bee center, Moe said he wants to increase student engagement and the arboretum’s diversity.

“We definitely would like to have students involved in a bigger way here at the arboretum,” he said.

To do this, Moe said they’ll need to solve the issue of transportation.

“It’s a great place for students to engage, but we understand too that … it is, I think, about 30 miles from campus,” Buhr said. “It’s tough to access.”

As for solutions, Moe said they are in talks with SouthWest Transit to possibly route buses between the arboretum and the University.

But bringing in more visitors will present another challenge for the arboretum.

Todd Wagner, president of the arboretum foundation’s board of trustees, said they hit maximum capacity for visitors last Mother’s Day.

“There’s been tremendous growth in visitorship, and the population of the Twin Cities … continues to grow,” he said.

Wagner said attracting more people to the arboretum, while also having the capacity to do so, is something they’ll need to address.

“The question will need to be answered in the strategic plan on how much more development or enhancement can occur at the arboretum, and how many visitors can it support comfortably?” he said.

Moe said one of the main problems caused by the large holiday turnout has been parking.

To combat this, he said they’re looking to utilize alternate parking areas, as well as implementing a shuttle service from other lots.

But apart from the logistics of the job, Moe said working at the arboretum is simply “fun.”

“It really means a lot to me to create these beautiful experiences and educational experiences for people,” he said.