Skip to Content

Marketing Mostly Intangible Goods: The Case of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta


Jorge A. Santiago-Blay
Department of Paleobiology
National Museum of Natural History / Smithsonian Institution


This case study illustrates some of the common social and economic problems facing botanical gardens and arboreta today. The case describes a conversation between Angie and Suzie, two long-time staff members at an unnamed botanical garden. The women are discussing the economic difficulties the garden is experiencing. Like so many others, this botanical garden has been losing funds. Students read the case and in small groups discuss the value of botanical gardens and arboreta as well as their mission and operation. They then prepare an oral presentation as well as a written outline of a grant proposal seeking economic support for a botanical garden or arboretum of their choosing. This case study can be adapted to accommodate students with diverse background knowledge in biology, ranging from juniors and seniors taking environmental science or conservation biology courses, to freshmen or sophomores (science or non-science majors) enrolled in introductory biology courses, particularly those that include units on botany, biodiversity, and/or ecology.


  • Discuss the values of botanical gardens and arboreta and apply this information in a group presentation.
  • Discuss the mission as well as operational features of botanical gardens and arboreta and apply this knowledge in a group presentation.
  • Develop skills in proposal writing and presentation.
  • Appraise the effectiveness of the oral presentations of their fellow students.


Botanical garden; arboretum; arboreta; public gardens; financial management; proposal writing; grant writing; mission statement

Topical Areas

Policy issues, Social issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods

Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Role-Play



Subject Headings

Botany / Plant Science  |   Business / Management Science  |   Economics  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.