About the Friends

Mission

Building Community Through Horticulture
Engage, Enrich, Educate

Our mission is to promote public awareness of horticulture, cultural landscapes, and the natural world through stewardship, sponsorship of projects, and educational opportunities; and to further development of horticulture and research facilities at Morris County Park Commission’s horticultural sites.

Officers

  • Heather Emelander – President
  • Lynn Shavelson – Vice President
  • Judy Snow – Secretary
  • Erin Rantas – Acting Treasurer

Staff

Margery Ennist – Operations Manager
Lisa Bencivengo – Administrative Assistant

The Friends of Frelinghuysen Arboretum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 1972, following the gift of the property to the Morris County Park Commission (MCPC).  Formerly the summer home of George and Sara Frelinghuysen, it was given to the MCPC by their daughter Matilda after her death in 1969.  It was intended for use as the headquarters of the Park Commission, with the grounds open to the public for enjoyment and education. 

A dedicated group of local residents foresaw the need for a support group to advocate for the development of the Arboretum, and to promote the site as a learning center for all things horticultural.  They founded the Friends’ organization and immediately began planning programs and a publication ultimately titled Arboretum Leaves.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the Friends helped to support a $5 million bond referendum, which included funds for the construction of the Haggerty Education Center.  

Through the years, the Friends helped to establish and fund many initiatives at the Arboretum, including the children’s Branching Out program, renovations and improvements to the gardens and facilities, support for staff and intern salaries, and much more.  Two major fundraising events, the Plant Sale and the Gingerbread Wonderland, were inaugurated in 1992 to provide resources for these initiatives.  Since 1973, the Friends’ donations to the MCPC for the improvement of facilities, plants and gardens, programs and events, and staff support have exceeded $1 million.  This generous support was made possible through the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and members.

Non-Profit Status

The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is exempt from Federal taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code per this letter from the IRS. We file the required exempt organization tax returns (Form 990s) annually. Recent copies for the returns are here:

Annual Report

The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum produce an Annual Report recapping the past year’s activities and events. Recent reports are available here while older reports may be found in the archive.