Mary Jo Kubeluis Honored as Adkins Arboretum’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year

MARY-JO-KUBELUIS-VOLUNTEER-OF-THE-YEARMary Jo Kubeluis Honored as Adkins Arboretum’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year

Whether serving as a volunteer, a docent or a Trustee, Mary Jo Kubeluis is a premier ambassador for Adkins Arboretum. From leading walks to planning events, her commitment and enthusiasm know no bounds. For her tireless energy, her unwavering dedication and her ceaseless passion for the Arboretum and its mission, Kubeluis was named the Arboretum’s Volunteer of the Year for 2013.

Following careers in nursing and real estate, Kubeluis and her husband, Al, moved to McDaniel in 1999. Her interest in nature and gardening led her to enroll in a Master Gardener course. She hadn’t heard of Adkins when she was approached to volunteer at one of its semiannual plant sales, but she recalls that she “was hooked as soon as I walked in the woods.” Kubeluis jumped with both feet into volunteering at the Arboretum, becoming a docent and eventually joining the Board of Trustees, first as a volunteer liaison and then as a full-time Board member.

As a Trustee, Kubeluis has been instrumental in planning the Arboretum’s annual Magic in the Meadow gala and its inaugural Native Garden Tour in 2013. While her work as a Trustee provides critical support of the success of the Arboretum’s fundraising efforts and its mission-driven programming, Kubeluis reveals that the activity that gives her the most pleasure is leading guided walks.

As a child in Ohio, she accompanied her father on nature walks and finds that even though the Eastern Shore’s topography differs greatly from that of her childhood home, “when I first walked in the woods at the Arboretum, it reminded me of walking in the woods with my father as a child,” she said. “Leading public walks is my favorite thing to do. There are so many different aspects to discuss: how native plants help the Chesapeake Bay, how the forest acts as a filter for water, and the natural beauty of taking a walk in the woods. I find that leading walks allows me the opportunity to talk about all of those things, as well as share the beauty of the Arboretum with visitors.”

Kubeluis’s commitment to and care of the Arboretum inspires both staff and Trustees. “If you need a nurse, I hope you are blessed with one as fine as Mary Jo,” said Arboretum Executive Director Ellie Altman. “Gentle, thoughtful, generous, dedicated and reliable are only a few of her characteristics that quickly come to mind. She is a gem of a volunteer who is passionate about all things Adkins Arboretum. We are delighted to be able to honor her as Volunteer of the Year. It is long overdue.”

While thrilled with the honor, Kubeluis said she is more thankful still for a place where she can take a walk, immerse herself in nature and enjoy its subtle beauty. “I am grateful to the Arboretum for its educational experiences, as well as for the companionship and friends I have found there,” she said. “But what I love most is going there and being surrounded by so much beauty. For me, the Arboretum is a sacred place.”

Kubelius was honored on Jan. 25 at the Arboretum’s annual Volunteers Appreciation Luncheon.

Mary Jo Kubeluis of McDaniel was honored as Adkins Arboretum’s Volunteer of the Year for 2013. Photo by Ann Rohlfing.