March 17, 2020
Jessica B. Turner-Skoff, Ph.D, treeologist - science communication leader at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill., has been named the 2020 recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) Emerging Horticultural Professional Award, which recognizes significant achievements and/or leadership early in a professional’s career that have advanced the field of horticulture in America.
The accolade is one of the Great American Gardeners Awards that the AHS presents annually to individuals, organizations, and businesses that represent the best in American gardening. Each of the recipients has contributed significantly to various fields, including scientific research, garden communication, landscape design, youth gardening, and conservation.
Having gained an appreciation for the natural world during her childhood in rural Ohio, Turner-Skoff pursued a formal education in the sciences and, through training and practice, became a passionate science communicator. She earned a bachelor’s degree in conservation science at Muskingum University in Ohio, a master’s degree in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Ph.D. in biology from West Virginia University.
In January 2016, Turner-Skoff—a Chicago resident—was named The Morton Arboretum’s first treeologist - science communication leader. In her role, Turner-Skoff helps the public understand the benefits of trees, key concepts about tree science and conservation, and research and applications underway at the Arboretum.
Among other achievements, Turner-Skoff introduced students to diverse plant science professions as a co-developer and co-host of the Arboretum’s “Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers” podcast, and as a member of the team that brought to fruition a new graphic novel series, “Canopy Career Chronicles.” She also recently published a literature review on the scientific benefit of trees. Through leadership roles in a number of community, professional, and industry organizations, including Seed Your Future, the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, and the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, she has helped keep plant education and outreach alive for future generations.
On Thursday, June 18, the AHS will honor Turner-Skoff and other award recipients during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet, held at the Society’s River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Va. For full descriptions of each award and brief biographies of this year’s recipients, please visit our 2020 Award Winners.
Founded in 1922, the American Horticultural Society is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to modeling, educating about, and advocating for earth-friendly and sustainable gardening practices. Our mission is to share with all Americans the critical role of plants, gardens, and green spaces in creating healthy, livable communities and a sustainable planet. Since 1973, we have been headquartered at River Farm, part of George Washington’s original land holdings on a 25-acre site composed of gardens, meadows, and woodlands along the Potomac River in the Mount Vernon section of Fairfax County. To learn more, visit ahsgardening.org.