OSU Horticulture Education Center opens to enhance community programming
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
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The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University celebrated the grand opening of its new Horticulture Education Center on Dec. 19.
The 2,100-square-foot facility features a large classroom for student, faculty and community learning opportunities, as well as office space and restrooms.
“It’s another memorable milestone in the history of The Botanic Garden at OSU as we celebrate the grand opening of the Horticulture Education Center,” said Jayson Lusk, vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture. “This new center will further enhance participation in horticultural activities at the garden and ensure that OSU Agriculture’s legacy of community will continue to evolve for future generations.”
The $1.725 million project is a public-private partnership made possible with support from the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, industry partners and individual contributions.
“We have wonderful donors, and we couldn’t have done this without all of them working together,” said Lou Anella, director of The Botanic Garden at OSU.
The facility includes special features such as a patio extension project funded by generous support from the Shamas Family Foundation.
“We’re dedicated to the Stillwater community and wanted to honor the Shamas and DeBenning legacy at OSU,” said Annawyn DeBenning Shamas. “This contribution to the Horticulture Education Center patio project is a tribute to the family’s commitment to education and love of gardening and is a promise to cultivate a vibrant future for generations to come.”
Located on the north side of State Highway 51 in Stillwater, adjacent to the OSU Agronomy Farm and across the road from the OSU Student Farm, the Horticulture Education Center is an off-campus, easily accessible site for community members, students, faculty and staff to visit.
“The center offers a comfortable experience for our guests and will be a great asset for the community,” Anella said. “We’re looking forward to increasing programming including children’s programs, Extension educator professional development, labs for OSU students and volunteer training. Twenty-one different college classes use the garden for educational purposes.”
Shelley Mitchell, OSU Extension specialist, will office at the Horticulture Education Center, and she anticipates incorporating fun and spontaneous activities for youth. A long-time horticulture instructor, Mitchell said the facility will allow her to better serve Oklahoma 4-H members, establish an afterschool teen volunteer program and incorporate more gardening knowledge into local school curriculum.
“Between botanic garden tours, training sessions and other events, I will have a captive audience to offer informal, fun lessons,” Mitchell said. “I teach day camps, work with Girl Scout troops to earn badges, facilitate horticulture workshops during OSU Grandparent University and serve as the state contact for the Junior Master Gardener program. The center is a more convenient location that everyone can access any day and time without having to navigate parking on campus.”
The Horticulture Education Center’s programming schedule will also include other Master Gardener training sessions, Tuesday Gardening Series talks and community events throughout the year. The in-person instruction will enrich local horticulture involvement while promoting OSU horticulture degree options and career opportunities in the industry.