42nd President, National Garden Clubs,
Nicolai NGC: Proudly Serving Our Members and
Shirley Nicolai of Fort Washington,
Md., serves as National Garden Clubs' 42nd
president. A former elementary school teacher who has been
deeply involved in NGC-affiliated activities for more than 30
years, Nicolai is also recognized for her environmental activism
aquatic ecosystems, having successfully submitted
one of the first mitigation plans to satisfy Chesapeake Bay
Critical Area legislation requirements. In her role as
National Garden Clubs' president for 2011-2013, Nicolai travels
coast-to-coast to promote NGC causes and projects, seek new ideas
geared to current needs, and network with many of the nearly
200,000 members of this far-reaching volunteer organization, one of
the largest of its type in the world.
Nicolai's responsibility overall is
to guide the organization in maintaining its mission: promoting
civic and environmental responsibility, as well as a love of
gardening and floral design. In addition, she says that one
of her major objectives is to bring more diverse members of all
ages into the NGC fold as the organization takes on key issues in
today's difficult times.
The theme for Nicolai's
administration focuses on service to members and providing support
to local garden clubs in meeting their specific needs. In
keeping with this theme, Nicolai has launched a broad umbrella of
initiatives related to plantings for public places and
protecting aquatic ecosystems.
"The plantings for public spaces
initiative is adaptable to current and future local needs and
encompasses many of our most successful ongoing projects, including
Blue Star Memorial markers and Habitat for Humanity low-maintenance
gardens," she says. "With the aquatic ecosystem push, we hope to
encourage our members to develop and implement strategies to
safeguard at least one threatened ecosystem in their respective
areas. We know from experience that together, NGC members can
create a powerful, synergistic voice that has a significant impact
on advancing civic and environmental responsibility and related
causes, so critical in today's world."
NGC national and international
programs include local, regional and national partnerships with
other philanthropic or government organizations, including the U.S.
Forest Service. Projects with the forest service include
Penny Pines, which raises funds on the state and local
level toward the replanting of disaster-struck state and national
forests, and the national Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl
poster contest for school-aged children, which has been a popular
fire prevention awareness activity for 50 years.
A native of New England, Nicolai is
a Master Landscape Design, Environmental and Gardening Study
Consultant. Her home and surrounding gardens-which she designed and
largely maintains on her own-are on the banks of the Potomac River,
located on three acres of the grounds of what was once an amusement
park. She has been a frequent speaker on landscape design and
serves as a judge on landscape beautification contests across the
Nicolai is a Master Accredited
Flower Show Judge and served on the Management Committee of the
World Association of Flower Arrangers (WAFA) USA, which
sponsoredThis Glorious Earth, a world flower show, in Boston.
Her responsibilities leading up to the show included chairing a
three-city seminar for international floral designers.
A member of the Tanta-Cove Garden
Club since 1977 and a founding member of Fergie's Gardeners,
Nicolai has been active at state, regional and national levels of
NGC. She served as president of National Capital Areas Garden
Clubs, Inc. and is past director of the NGC Central Atlantic
Region. Until recently, she served on boards of the Alice Ferguson
Foundation and Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA). She
currently serves on boards of the American Horticultural
Society and the Broad Creek Conservancy.