WOOSTER, Ohio — Wooster’s Secrest Arboretum celebrated its continuing recovery from tornado damage this past Friday (9/16), the storm’s one-year anniversary, and Ohio’s Master Gardener Volunteers added some icing to the cake. The group surprised Ken Cochran, the arboretum’s program director, with a check for $50,084 to go toward the arboretum’s renewal efforts.
Coupled with 2,080 hours of in-kind labor valued at $43,784, the group’s total donation to the arboretum equals $93,868.
“We’re very blessed to work for a group of dedicated volunteers who went over and above,” said Pam Bennett, Ohio State University Extension’s state Master Gardener coordinator. In all, cash donations came from Master Gardeners in 38 Ohio counties.
“It’s been quite an experience” to be part of the arboretum’s recovery, said Erik Draper, an OSU Extension educator who works with the volunteers, in presenting the gift to Cochran. “We’re so grateful for the work you do.”
Receiving such support, Cochran said, is “one of the most rewarding parts of my job. (But) it’s your arboretum. We’re here to facilitate however we might. We use the term ‘public-private partnership.’ We’re all in it together.”
An EF-2 tornado hit the arboretum, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center of which it’s a part, and nearby homes on Sept. 16, 2010, causing an estimated $25 million to $30 million in damage to the campus alone. The arboretum lost about 1,600 trees. So far, workers and volunteers have replanted some 1,000 new ones.
Total donations to the arboretum’s renewal fund stand at more than $400,000, said OARDC Director Steve Slack, with $150,000 still needed to hit the fund’s goal.
Also noted during the ceremony was an earlier $300 donation by students at the Montessori School of Wooster. “That says a lot about our future,” Slack said, “and it’s a pretty exciting future.”
Details on the arboretum’s tornado renewal fund are at http://go.osu.edu/Ex3.
Administered through OSU Extension, the Master Gardener Volunteer Program provides intensive horticulture training to garden lovers, who in turn volunteer their time teaching others about gardening through OSU Extension’s county offices.
OSU Extension, like OARDC, is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
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