The Wildflower Association of Michigan traces its roots back to March of 1986, when an exploratory meeting was held during Agriculture and Natural Resources Week at Michigan State University. Eighty individuals from various organizations and agencies, including Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State University Department of Parks and Recreation, and Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. (formerly Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan), gathered to discuss wildflower-related programs, challenges and potential, and to formulate a plan. Professor Louis F. Twardzik, MSU, was chairperson and Kim Herman, MDOT, was recorder of this group. The interest generated at this first meeting warranted forming a Wildflower Alliance. Additional meetings were held throughout the remainder of that year.
The first Michigan Wildflower Conference was held March 24, 1987 during ANR Week. After this conference, the group formally organized, creating bylaws and electing officers. Harry Doehne, owner of Michigan Wildflower Farm, presided as interim president. Elected officers were Glenn Goff, President; Kim Herman, Vice President; Betty Dick, Secretary; and Robert Welch, Treasurer.
Because attendees at the 1988 Michigan Wildflower Conference noted an increasing interest in the availability of native Michigan seed, and a lack of commercial growers, the first Wildflower Seed Growers Workshop was held during the 1989 conference. As an outgrowth of this workshop, the Wildflower Association of Michigan received funding to prepare a Wildflower Production Position Paper, presenting the results of a survey on the potential usage of wildflower seed in Michigan. The WAM Seed Committee published this report and sent it to the Michigan Department of Agriculture in January of 1990, documenting the current and future status of Michigan native wildflower seed production and recommendations. The outgrowth of this interest in native Michigan seed and plant production resulted in the formation of the Michigan Native Plant Producers Association (MNPPA) in 2000. Membership has grown to nine firms, with others interested in joining.
The Wildflower Association of Michigan has experienced phenomenal growth since those early years. The Michigan Wildflower Conference, held annually in March, includes the WAM annual meeting and two days of workshops and seminars featuring knowledgeable speakers with expertise in proper principles, ethics and methods of landscaping with native wildflowers and associated habitats on various levels of understanding, from novice to professional. The conference has been host to other groups interested in native plants, including the Michigan Invasive Plant Council, Wild Ones, and the Stewardship Network.
During the conference, WAM sponsors a concurrent Educators' Workshop to help teachers plan and develop outstanding outdoor educational facilities, improve grant-writing skills, and get feedback on individual projects. At the conference's grant awards luncheon, educational grants are awarded to qualifying facilities through a partnership with the Hal and Jean Glassen Memorial Foundation. The Glassen Foundation will have given over $40,500 in grants to fund the WAM/Glassen Grant Fund over the past eight years.
Operation Wildflower, the Michigan Garden Club's cooperative effort with the Michigan Department of Transportation to plant native wildflowers along Michigan's roadsides, received WAM support while it was active.
A newsletter, Wildflowers, is published quarterly and features articles on native Michigan wildflowers, habitats, legislative updates, book reviews, upcoming events, and related stories. The Wildflower Association of Michigan received 501(c)(3)) status in 2001.