Faculty, staff and students gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Hutson School of Agriculture’s renovated Arboretum Thursday afternoon. The multi-use facility contains crops, a pond, greenhouses, gardens, pathways on 16-acres of land.
“The Arboretum definitely has become a community and city resource,” Tony Brannon, dean of Hutson School of Agriculture, said. “It’s first and foremost a living, breathing educational laboratory for our students.”
The Arboretum also contains miles of pathways and a public garden, which are available to students and the community for recreational use.
The grand opening focused on the past, present and future of the Arboretum with dedication to the late Mabel Garrett Pullen, a former professor, and her husband Stanley Pullen.
Mabel Pullen donated the farm to Murray State and gave the Huston School of Agriculture $1 million for scholarships after her death in 1995.
Pat Williams, associate professor of agriculture, experienced the Arboretum first hand before its renovations when he joined the University in 2000.
“When I arrived, there was the classroom and one greenhouse,” Williams said. “Which means the parking lot was gravel, there was no dumpster, the only trees were the big ones here, and no sidewalks, no planting beds, no building.”
Over the years students were guided by professors to create a new and improved laboratory to study horticulture. The addition of the pond allows for students to learn in depth about aquatic plants, which before had not been available.
Sophomore Kaitlin Ziesmer, an Arboretum worker, said she believes the Arboretum can provide new opportunities to students like herself.
“We didn’t have anything with aquatic plants,” Ziesmer said. “It used to be a few trees and now it’s a great learning experience for classes.”
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer spoke highly of the Hutson School of Agriculture, regarding it as the top agriculture program in the state of Kentucky.
The Arboretum is open for community enjoyment and is a promising opportunity for future research and development, Comer said.
“All of the projects at Murray State’s School of Agriculture are making a positive impact on our community and on our economy here in Kentucky,” Comer said. “And you’re developing the future leaders of agriculture here at Murray State.”
The Arboretum, located a mile away from campus at 300 Hickory Drive, has many opportunities for students and citizens to become involved in its continued growth.
“I want to commend everyone that has a part of this,” Comer said. “I can’t say enough good things about Murray State.”