Powell Gardens, Inc.
1609 NW US Highway 50
Kingsville MO 64061
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 697-2600
Mission Statement

Powell Gardens is an experience that embraces the Midwest's spirit of place and inspires an appreciation for the importance of plants in our lives.

CEO/Executive Director Ms. Tabitha Schmidt
Board Chair Mr. Dick Brown
Board Chair Company Affiliation Stowers Institute for Medical Research
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1988
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement

Powell Gardens is an experience that embraces the Midwest's spirit of place and inspires an appreciation for the importance of plants in our lives.

Background Statement
Powell Gardens is a Kansas City treasure with 970 acres of natural wonder less than an hour from downtown. Highlights of the area's only major botanical garden include the Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation’s largest edible landscape; the Island Garden, featuring more than 200 varieties of water plants; and the David T. Beals, III Woodland and Stream Garden, where plants thrive in the shade.
Powell Gardens is a destination for plant lovers and art aficionados alike. Several permanent and rotating art exhibits are carefully curated to accentuate the gardens’ natural beauty. Powell Gardens is also known for its contemporary architecture by Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings, now Maurice Jennings + Walter Jennings Architects. Powell Gardens currently has the largest collection of structures by the firm, including examples of organic architecture reflecting Jones' early-career relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright.
In 1948, George E. Powell, Sr., a prominent Kansas City businessman and future owner of Yellow Transit Freight Lines (now YRC Worldwide), acquired a tract of land that was once a working dairy farm. Mr. Powell donated the 640-acre farm to the Kansas City Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1969 and the land was used as a regional camp for over a decade. In 1984, the Powell Family Foundation began developing a horticultural and natural resource facility called Powell Center in partnership with the University of Missouri’s School of Agriculture.
As a part of this development, Powell Center retained Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Environmental Planning and Design, the leading U.S. consultants for botanical gardens. The firm recognized that the site was ideal for development as a botanical garden. In 1988, official ties with the University of Missouri ended and Powell Gardens Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was established.
In 2017, Powell Gardens welcomed 97,256 visitors through paid and membership admissions, and membership grew to 3,272. Each visit served as a new opportunity to discover and celebrate the beauty of the Midwestern landscape. As a safe, tranquil place for children and their families to learn and play outdoors, Powell Gardens is a retreat from urban life and an integral part of the Kansas City experience.
Impact Statement

2017 Accomplishments:
  1. During the 2017 holiday season, Powell Gardens launched the first-annual Festival of Lights. This lighting exhibition is artfully curated by the Powell Gardens Horticulture staff and includes botanically-themed lighting displays that begin at the garden entrance and stretch along a mile-long walking path through six of the seven themed gardens.
  2. Kunso Kim joined Powell Gardens as the new Vice President of Gardens in late 2017. Mr. Kim brings nearly 30 years of international horticulture experience to his role, including 16 years in the Midwest ecosystem as the Curator and Head of Collections at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. During his short tenure, Mr. Kim has already elevated Powell Gardens among area community organizations through his work with the Kansa City Native Plant Initiative and Bridging the Gap’s Heartland Tree Alliance.
  3. Thanks to the Garden Guide docent training program launched in the fall of 2017, Powell Gardens has a highly-trained core of 17 volunteers. These Garden Guides are prepared to share their knowledge with visitors and meet the increased demand as Powell Gardens celebrates its 30th year as a botanical garden. Each Garden Guide undergoes an intensive 11-week, 33-hour training course provided by Powell Gardens’ staff and outside experts.

2018 Goals:
  1. Elevate the visitor experience by improving garden safety, security, and amenities while creating opportunities for unexpected joy.
  2. Elevate education programs to create meaningful programs where participants are genuinely learning, not just experiencing.
  3. Elevate the accessibility of the horticulture collection through database improvements and an online, interactive mapping system that will empower visitors to explore the Gardens with the aid of technology.
  4. Increase community outreach and create new partnerships with organizations to foster connections across Greater Kansas City.
Needs Statement
  1. Support for Powell Gardens’ festivals provides area residents the opportunity to reconnect with nature through unique, family-friendly experiences. Festival support needs are as follows: $87,062 for Booms and Blooms, a July 4th festival with fireworks and family-friendly activities; $107,457 for the Festival of Butterflies, a living exhibition of butterflies from around the world; $80,119 for Glow: A Jack-O-Lantern Festival, an exhibition of hundreds of carved pumpkins with fall-themed activities; and $200,522 for the Festival of Lights, a holiday light display.
  2. Powell Gardens’ Garden Guide docent training program needs $7,050 to cover costs associated with volunteer recruitment and training materials to create a highly knowledgeable team of volunteer tour guides to serve visitors.
  3. Technology improvements ($100,000), including an overhaul of the plant database and plant mapping, are necessary to improve plant collection tracking and elevate the visitor experience.
  4. Powell Gardens’ facilities require over $1.3 M in maintenance and repairs before 2021. Over $158,000 in improvements are scheduled to occur in 2018, including repair of fountains, greenhouse driplines, sidewalks, and wood and stone features in the Perennial Garden.
Service Categories
Botanical Gardens & Arboreta
Elementary & Secondary Schools
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
The Kansas City metro is comprised of two major urban core cities across two states–Kansas and Missouri. In a ring around these two urban cores are over 80 suburban cities in 15 counties. Outside of this suburban ring is America’s heartland, the rural communities which grow our produce and raise our livestock.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

Description Powell Gardens’ Youth Education Program provides outdoor experiences that encourage observation, discussion, inquiry, and hands-on learning. These experiences help youth science educators teach environmental concepts such as sustainability and ecological awareness. Tours include I Spy in the Garden (grades K-2), which encourages observation and introduces new vocabulary; Earthworms are Easy (grades 2-3), where students learn the basics of vermicomposting and build a worm bin to take back to their classrooms; Woodland Walk (grades 3-5), where students learn about native plants and track bark patterns, leaf shapes, and animal tracks in field notebooks; Pollinator Parade (grades 3-5), where students learn the critical role of pollinators and the basics of plant science; Good to Grow (grades 3-5), where students observe pollinators, identify the parts of a plant, and learn to make salsa with fresh, whole foods from the garden they just explored; and self-guided K-12 tours.
Program Budget $285,378.00
Category Education, General/Other Educational Programs
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
In 2018, Powell Gardens is committed to achieve the following outcomes:
  • Outcome 1: In 2018, 65% of students will learn a minimum of three new facts after participating in a three-hour long tour. This will be measured by pre- and post-assessments completed by students.
  • Outcome 2: In 2018, 50% of students will be introduced to new garden-related STEM concepts after participating in tours less than three hours long. This will be measured by a verbal survey.

Powell Gardens’ Youth Education Program will impact the broader community by igniting a love for science and empowering younger generations to become responsible stewards of the natural world by highlighting the relationship between everyday life and nature. The program will inspire students to lead healthier lives through understanding the relationship between nature and the food they eat and will unlock a lifelong love for scientific discovery.
Long-Term Success The goal of the program is to enhance science education and student performance for Kansas City metro students while also empowering the next generation to make wise and deliberate choices about the foods they eat. To support this goal, Powell Gardens’ Youth Education Program reinforces grade-level science education standards that underscore the important role plants play in daily life to encourage greater academic achievement and conscientious consumerism. An academic foundation in science allows students to not only better understand the world around them, but can also prepare them for high-demand, well-paying careers in the science and technology fields. Furthermore, educating students about the importance of sustainable food production and systems will ultimately cause consumers to consider sustainability when making choices, and a change in consumer preference will drive corporations to adopt sustainable practices to meet this need.
Program Success Monitored By
Powell Gardens’ staff and volunteers assess students on-site immediately before and after participating in tours that are at least three hours long. Students complete an assessment to measure their knowledge and understanding of science vocabulary and concepts. They are also asked to identify and label parts of a plant, recall the role of pollinators in the plant life cycle, and differentiate between whole and processed foods. In addition, teachers complete surveys to provide feedback to volunteers and staff leading the program. Data collected from both student assessments and teacher surveys is used to inform future iterations of the curriculum.
Students in shorter programs are surveyed verbally by volunteer docents throughout the duration of the tour. Questions measure students’ exposure to garden-related science concepts (for example, “Raise your hand if you have ever grown a plant from a seed or a bulb.”). Docents will count and record the number of responses throughout the program.
Examples of Program Success In 2017, Powell Gardens served a total of 3,226 K-12 students in curricular programs. In 2017, the results of pre- and post-assessments conducted during tours at least three hours in length demonstrated that participants learned new information about pollinators and their significance in the ecosystem and lives of humans; the parts of a plant; and the difference between whole and processed foods and why whole foods are important in our lives. On average, students achieved 22% correct responses on the pre-test and 65% correct responses on the post-test. This is a difference and increase of 43 percentage points from what students already knew before, to what they learned after the program. This data demonstrates that the program solidifies and enhances the teaching of classroom concepts related to science, health, and the environment.
The BIG Backyard art installation will be on display at Powell Gardens from May 12 to Oct. 22, 2018. The outdoor exhibit will feature a dozen structural artworks related to the theme of an urban backyard. The structures will be constructed in a way that encourages visitors to climb on, crawl through, and play on the art. The scale of the structures creates larger-than-life enjoyment.
Powell Gardens recently made strides to formalize its interior exhibition program. As a result, four visual art shows will take place in the Visitor Center throughout 2018. For the first time in recent history, the indoor exhibitions are being intentionally marketed to visitors and are part of a programmatic offerings, including opportunities to celebrate the artists with a public reception.
Powell Gardens will also offer several multidisciplinary workshops in 2018, with topics to include meditation and poetry writing workshop, a watercolor floral painting workshop, and a plein air painting workshop.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Visual Arts Exhibitions
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Short-Term Success Powell Gardens expects to grow membership and attendance by 20% during the 2018 BIG Backyard Exhibition. The 2017 outdoor exhibition attracted 35,554 visitors and the Powell Gardens membership reached 2,976 by the exhibition’s end. Powell Garden’s expects to 42,665 visitors during the 2018 BIG Backyard exhibition, with membership reaching 3,572 by the program’s conclusion.
Long-Term Success The goal of Powell Gardens art exhibitions is to create opportunities for area residents and tourists to the Kansas City area to experience the intersection of art and nature and gain a better appreciation of the importance of plants in our lives. Powell Gardens also aims to celebrate the Midwest spirit of place by showcasing the works of local artists.
Program Success Monitored By Powell Gardens conducts visitor surveys for each major art exhibition. Feedback from these surveys is used to inform future exhibit curation to better meet the needs of Powell Gardens’ audience. For example, years of visitor feedback has indicated families prefer to bring their children to experience outdoor sculpture exhibitions that include interactive elements. Because Powell Gardens believes it is important to foster an appreciation for both art and the natural world at an early age, the staff prioritizes installments that encourage playful interaction. Ticket sales during the exhibition also serve as a strong indicator of program success.
Examples of Program Success
Powell Gardens’ 2017 outdoor sculpture exhibit, Gardens of Myth, was hosted at Powell Gardens from May through October of 2017. During this exhibit, 35,554 individuals visited Powell Gardens as measured by ticket sales.
Powell Gardens has worked to diversify its artistic offerings to provide programming that highlights the aesthetics of the garden and allows guests to experience beauty in nature. In 2017, Powell Gardens collaborated with the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) to offer two classes, a natural dye workshop and a handmade papermaking workshop using plant fibers, which merge visual art and nature/science, engaging students to create a site-specific public installation. In addition, a site-specific installation featuring the work of KCAI students will be on view March 2018.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Tabitha Schmidt
Term Start Aug 2016
Compensation $100,001 - $125,000
Experience Mrs. Schmidt has over 20 years of experience in non-profit administration specifically in cultural and educational institutions.  Her Kansas City experience includes work at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City Young Audiences, Maple Woods Community College and the Jewish Community Center.  Mrs. Schmidt was the Interim Executive Director of the Museum of Texas Tech University. 
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
David Bismara Jan 1983 - Dec 1985
Barry Yinger Jan 1985 - Dec 1987
Senior Staff
Title Chief Financial Officer
Experience/Biography Sara was employed by BKD and was our auditor prior to assuming the role of CFO.
Title Director of Education, Outreach and Interpretation
Paid Full-Time Staff 36
Paid Part-Time Staff 45
Volunteers 188
Paid Contractors 2
Retention Rate 67%
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Bi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Powell Gardens maintains strong relationships with organizations throughout the region serving as a partner, adviser, educator, and donor. 
  • Powell Gardens manages and maintains the Kauffman Memorial Gardens, a 2-acre garden in the heart of Kansas City.
  • Staff has relationships with the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the Kansas City Native Plant Initiative, Bridging the Gap’s Heartland Tree Alliance, and extension offices in both Missouri and Kansas at the Master Gardener and professional levels.
  • The Gardens maintain relationships with teachers and administrators in school districts across the Kansas City area to provide meaningful field trip opportunities that reinforce grade-level science education standards.
  • Harvesters and other food pantries glean crops from the Heartland Harvest Garden when crop yields are abundant.
  • Powell Gardens provides free admission passes to patients of area hospice organizations and organizations hosting fundraisers.
  • Beginning in 2018, the Gardens partnered with Missouri Organic Recycling to purchase responsibly-sourced mulch and compost at a discounted rate. The two organizations are working to develop joint programming to provide education on environmentally responsible practices and develop an internal composting program at Powell Gardens.
MemberAmerican Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta2008
MemberAmerican Public Gardens Association2010
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments

Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Dick Brown
Company Affiliation Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Term Jan 2018 to Jan 2020
Board Members
Mr. Perry Atha Atronic Alarms, Inc.
Ms. Beth Bader C2FO
Mr. Clay Barton Barton, Hall, & Schnieders, P.C.
Mrs. Lynne Brown Academy of Integrated Arts Charter School
Mr. Dick Brown Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Mr. Kevin Childress My Freightworld
Ms. Courtney Earnest Community Volunteer
Ms. Amy Eckhoff Gastinger Walker Architecture Firm
Mr. George M. Guastello Union Station
Mr. James (Jim) Houx Retired
Mr. Tom Isenberg Western Extralite
Mr. Jay Longbottom Robert Family Holdings
Mr. Tom Lovell Retired, Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation
Mr. Mark McCasland Community Volunteer
Mr. Larry McMullen Husch Blackwell Sanders
Ms. Diane Phillips Commerce Bank
Mr. Nicholas K. Powell Colt Energy
Mrs. Wendy J. Powell
Ms. Anne Riker Powell
Mrs. Tabitha C. Schmidt Powell Gardens
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 20
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 12
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 90%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 5%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Board Development / Board Orientation
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
CEO Comments
Board member selection is based on a matrix that allows us to review the strengths and weaknesses of our present board. New members are selected to help fill those voids. This past year our focus was on individuals in the marketing/advertising and corporate worlds and those with strengths in fund raising; at the same time we tried to be mindful of our need for all types of diversity.
Board members listed as “Additional Board” on this profile represent the board of directors for Friends of Powell Gardens, Inc., a separate supporting membership organization that exists solely to support Powell Gardens, Inc. In addition to providing valuable in-kind volunteer support, this board cultivates a membership base of 3,600+ member households.
The Friends of Powell Gardens board is very active and tends to be a training ground for future members of the Powell Gardens, Inc. governing board. While diversity is always a major concern when recruiting board members for both boards, currently there is more cultural diversity on the Friends of Powell Gardens board. This changes from year to year as the makeup shifts. This fact does not show up in the demographic information collected by this profile.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2018
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $3,701,492
Projected Expenses $3,691,645
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage 5
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2015, 2014, 2013: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.  
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$124,230$178,048$740,288
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$190,999$245,753$233,635
Revenue In-Kind$91,538$298,722$27,161
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$3,275,867$3,445,695$3,448,874
Administration Expense$700,454$677,175$586,295
Fundraising Expense$336,384$150,599$156,656
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.051.590.91
Program Expense/Total Expenses76%81%82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue11%3%7%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$18,129,713$17,988,509$15,924,290
Current Assets$608,902$483,036$3,652,309
Long-Term Liabilities$32,000$55,837$455,945
Current Liabilities$595,979$478,344$527,059
Total Net Assets$17,501,734$17,454,328$14,941,286
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.021.016.93
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%3%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountIndividual Donor $1,771,322 -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountIndividual Donor $500,000 -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFriends of Powell Gardens $232,423 -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Purpose The $18.5 million campaign supports capital projects to increase awareness and earned income ($3.5 million) and to grow the endowment ($15 million.)
Goal $18,500,000.00
Dates June 2015 to Dec 2019
Amount Raised to Date $9,954,574.00 as of Apr 2018
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Name Powell Gardens, Inc.
Address 1609 NW US Highway 50
Kingsville, MO 64061
Primary Phone (816) 697-2600
Contact Email info@powellgardens.org
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Tabitha Schmidt
Board Chair Mr. Dick Brown
Board Chair Company Affiliation Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Year of Incorporation 1988