During the month of November 2014, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs welcomed Rachel Wootten as its new volunteer-services coordinator, and bid farewell to Horticulture Team manager Ken Darsney.
Rachel Wootten comes to the division from the Multi-Cultural Community Center in Milford, Del. where she worked as an assistant to the executive director, and where she volunteered in providing after-school help for at-risk youth. A 2012 graduate of the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a concentration in human rights, she spent a year in Cameroon, West Africa, where she volunteered for service as a community development officer with United Action for Children, a community-based, nonprofit organization that provides a nurturing environment for the effective growth and development of young people. During her service with that organization, Wootten coordinated a group of international volunteers who administered a “school-on-wheels” program that provided remote villages with educational services.
Originally from Maryland, Wootten grew up in Lewes, Del. and now lives in Houston, Del. As the division’s new volunteer-services coordinator, she will be working to recruit, and fully utilize the talents of, a dedicated cadre of volunteers who can help the agency preserve Delaware’s historical legacy.
In December 2014, Ken Darsney will open a new career-chapter as horticultural supervisor for the Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a 300-acre country estate once owned by the businessman and philanthropist Alfred I. duPont. Located north of Wilmington, Del., Nemours features a classical French-style mansion and one of the largest French formal gardens in North America.
A member of the division staff since June 2011, Darsney’s responsibilities included management of the Horticulture Team as well as hands-on horticultural and arboricultural work. Under his leadership, the Horticulture Team compiled an impressive list of accomplishments including transformation of the grounds at Buena Vista and Woodburn; the establishment of new beds at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes and at Delaware’s copy of the Liberty Bell in Dover; and the ongoing care of horticultural displays at a wide variety of state-owned properties including Belmont Hall, the John Dickinson Plantation, Cooch-Dayett Mills, Fort Christina and the New Castle Green. The division sends its best wishes to Darsney as he begins service at one of the most prestigious formal gardens in Delaware and the nation.