Home » A Message from our Executive Director » Admissions Spring 2019 FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Dawes Arboretum would like to thank you for all of your great questions.  We will continue to be transparent and have an open dialogue regarding our Spring 2019 admissions plan.  Please continue to look for updates on this information and please feel free to call The Arboretum at 740-323-2355 with any further questions.


Will members have to pay to get into the Arboretum? 

No, free admission is a benefit of membership.

What does a membership cost?

A family membership costs $60 per year, and individual memberships are $40 per year.

Can my grandchildren get in free with my membership?

We are making some improvements to our membership program.  Our $40 individual membership will become our Individual Plus One membership. The $40 price for this membership will remain the same with this improvement.  Members at this level can bring one guest for free each visit to The Arboretum.

Our $60 family membership will include six immediate family members.  A combination of six parents, grandparents, kids, grandkids and the nanny can come to the Arboretum without paying admission if they have a family membership. The $60 fee for the membership will not change with this improvement.

For more information on memberships, please visit dawesarb.org/support/membership/levels-and-benefits.

When will you start charging admission?

The Dawes Arboretum will begin charging admission fees in the spring of 2019.

What will admission cost?

Arboretum admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 -15. Children younger than 5 will get admitted for free.

Will there be a discount for seniors?

We are committed to offering a variety of free and discount days for the local community throughout the year. We are exploring a variety of options for seniors including discount days for seniors that include special free programs.

What about people who cannot afford to pay the admission fee?

We will offer passes that can be checked out at the Licking County Library.

We will offer free passes for foster care families though Licking County JFS.

Those with a SNAP card will be offered discounted admission, daily.

We are committed to offering a variety of free and discount days for the local community throughout the year and will err on the side of access. Our first free access day will be our new Founders Day Celebration in June.

Visitors will also be able to visit more than 300 acres of Arboretum grounds at the Red Barn Reserve and Dutch Fork Wetlands free of charge, year round.

For more information on access please visit dawesarb.org/arboretum-access.

If I register for a class or program, will I have to pay an admission fee on top of the program fee?

No, Arboretum admission will be included with the registration fee for the program.

Why are you making this change?

This is an important step for The Arboretum, because it will increase our ability to impact even more people with our mission and it will provide the stability necessary to manage our plant collections, gardens and natural areas at an appropriate level for current visitors and future generations.

How is the Arboretum funded?

As a nonprofit the Dawes Arboretum receives no federal, state or local tax revenue in support of its operations.  The funding for the Arboretum comes from an endowment, memberships, donations and other miscellaneous user fees.

What details can you provide about Executive Director compensation in 2017?

Luke Messinger has been with The Arboretum for 31 years and part of his 2017 compensation includes a one-time payout through an employee-directed deferred compensation plan.  This was an exception to the executive director’s base salary and is not realized every year.   The Executive Director’s base salary is in the $140K range which is benchmarked against public garden peers annually and approved by The Arboretum board of directors in full compliance with IRS guidelines.

The plan, earnings and deferred compensation distribution were fully reviewed, by the Arboretum’s accountants and auditors.

What about prom and homecoming photos?

We will offer free access for photos during prom and homecoming for local schools.

Where can I find the IRS form 990?

The 2017 Form 990 is available at https://www.guidestar.org/profile/31-4379601.  The 2018 Form 990 will be available in February 2019.

Will I have to pay to visit the Beard Green cemetery?

We will provide access to the Beard Green Cemetery to those who are descendants of individuals buried there, subject to the Ohio revised code.

If I rent a shelter house, will guests to my event have to pay admission?

Guest passes will be included with the rental fee.

If I have my wedding at The Arboretum, will my guests have to pay to attend the ceremony?

Guest passes will be included in each wedding package.

Will our school have to pay admission for a field trip?

Our school field trip pricing will remain unchanged.

What about photographers that have a membership?

Access will be available. We are working to determine an appropriate number of client passes in the membership.

Can I visit my tribute bench or tree?

Yes. Free access to your Dawes Arboretum tribute bench or tree will remain. Please contact Leigh Ann Miller at lamiller@dawesarb.org to for additional information.

Will I have to pay to go to Arboretum East?

Because parking for Arboretum East and the walking path to access this area are located on The Arboretum’s main grounds, visitors will have to pay to access Arboretum East.

We are hosting an open house meeting on November 3 at 10am to further discuss this change. If you would like to speak directly with our Executive Director Luke Messinger, please email lemessinger@dawesarb.org or call 740.323.2355.



Updated January 2019