On the morning of November 9, community members gathered at Morley Field near Jacaranda Place to honor the life and legacy of the “Mother of Balboa Park,” Kate Sessions, and plant 27 new trees. Honored as one of the park’s founders, Sessions (born Nov. 8, 1857) is the horticulturalist and landscape architect credited for planting hundreds of trees and flowering plants throughout the park during the late 19th and early 20th century.

While breathing new life into Balboa Park’s urban forest, friends and neighbors jammed to the Drought Tolerant Bluegrass Band and indulged in local food truck faves, Gelati & Peccati and Dang Brother Pizza. Sixty of our local Girl Scouts joined the festivities to advance their tree knowledge, learn about Kate Sessions, and get their hands dirty with tree plantings. The San Diego Floral Association hosted a booth educating visitors about Kate Sessions’s life and work. The Conservancy also hosted nature-themed arts and crafts, featuring Joy Raab, illustrator of the Kate Sessions: Mother of Balboa Park children’s book. The highlight for many a young scout was taking a selfie with our own Philanthropy Coordinator, Dylan Swisher, dressed as Kate Sessions, following her storytime session. 

The success and spirit of Plant It Forward helps address a pressing community need to protect and nourish the local environment in the face of climate change. At our pledge station, friends and neighbors committed to enact change in their local communities. “I pledge to help the environment by doing beach cleanups and continuing to plant trees,” wrote Joshua. “I pledge to take care of the environment and to plant more trees in the future,” wrote Carys. 

These pledges demonstrate that, as individuals and as a collective, we have the power to help our community and our environment.

By honoring Kate Sessions’s legacy, we kindle our connection to the park and take ownership of the health of our urban forest. Together, we can act and speak for the trees, in part by supporting organizations like the Balboa Park Conservancy. 

This wondrous occasion could not have come together without our partners at SDG&E, City of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation, California ReLeaf,San Diego Floral Association, Urban Corps of San Diego, CAL FIRE, Girl Scouts San Diego, and Tree San Diego.

Thank you to all who attended! We look forward to seeing you next year to Plant It Forward.