Keynote Speaker

We are very happy to announce that the Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Diane Relf, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech.

Dr Diane Relf

Paula Diane Relf received her PhD in Horticulture from the University of Maryland in 1976 where she pioneered studies in the area of Horticultural Therapy.

Her work as Extension Specialist in Consumer Horticulture at Virginia Tech University (VPI&SU) included extensive writing on home gardening in which she pioneered the use of computer technology at VPI&SU for reaching a broad extension audience; extensive radio and other media programming; leadership in the expansion of the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program throughout Virginia and spearheading the first National Master Gardener College held in Washington D.C.; and consulting on a state, national, and international level with the industry on the value of consumer focused marketing of horticulture crops and services. Her teaching included non-majors courses in gardening and the development of a Horticultural Therapy curriculum, teaching HT courses, and supervising graduate and undergraduate students.

She has been director or on the board of horticultural societies or chaired committees and working groups for them, including: Garden Writers Association of America, AHTA, PPC, ASHS, and ISHS. In 1973 she was instrumental in the founding of the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture (now the American Horticultural Therapy Association) and served as President of the organization from 1975 to 1979. In 1989, she chaired the organizing committee for the national symposium, “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-Being and Social Development” and the formation of the People-Plant Council. In her role as the chair of the People-Plant Council, she has been influential in the organization of 7 of the subsequent international symposia under the auspices of the PPC and 3 symposia/colloquia of the International Horticultural Congress. She has expanded her impact to other parts of the world through university, professional, and trade presentations in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, UK, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.

Diane has received numerous national honors and awards. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences in August 2002 and was selected by the AHSH in 2001 as one of the top 100 ASHS members of the late 20th century for contributions to growth and change in horticulture to be interviewed by historian-archivist for video permanent archives. Other recognitions include: American Horticultural Society’s National Horticultural Therapy Award, 2000; Outstanding Extension Educator Award for Career Accomplishments awarded by ASHS, 1996; John Walker Award for Professional Service awarded by the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture, 1984; Award for Outstanding Service to Horticultural Therapy – Bronze Plaque awarded by the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture, 1979.

She was awarded the position of Professor Emeritus of Horticulture at Virginia Tech University in 2003.

Dr Relf’s talk is titled “Moving into the Future: Horticultural Therapy and Evidence-Based Practice”.

Evidence Based Practice (EBP) has been embraced by many healthcare professional areas associated with clinical practice. It is a tool to assist professionals in achieving a high level of positive results from the treatment they provide. To establish a professional area as an Evidence-Based practice requires a commitment by each professional to be responsible for maintaining a research-informed practice that provides each client with the optimum treatments to meet the client’s individual needs within the context of the client’s situation. The implementation of the principles of EBP makes clear the connection between the various elements of a healthcare profession and the research that underlies its application. Publication of research and effective practices is a critical element in establishing EBP.