Gala, auction held at Hutson Arboretum

The new “mountain” and pond exhibit in the Hutson School of Agriculture Arboretum at Murray State was revealed during the Hutson Harvest Gala Sept. 4.

The Harvest Gala featured a auction, including more than 45 donated items.

“Lots of good, local artists donated (to the silent auction),” said Candace Clark-Collins, Murray native. She is a member of The Arboretum and said that she and her husband walk at the park every night.

“I think they have done a wonderful job,” she said.

The Hutson School of Agriculture hosted the Gala to raise funds for The Arboretum.

Abby Hensley, director of development for the Hutson School of Agriculture Special University Projects, said she was thrilled at the turnout for the event. Tickets were sold at the gates of The Arboretum and 175 were sold before the event.

The Hutson School of Agriculture began construction on The Arboretum in 2009.

“We wanted to take The Arboretum to the next level,” Hensley said.

Landscape Materials Designs and Swift Environmental were both involved in the creation of the new exhibit.

“The Board and its dedication to The Arboretum is what feeds its success,” Hensley said.

Samantha Anderson, senior from Winchester, Ky., said she has seen The Arboretum grow over the years.

“It’s a great asset to Murray State,” she said. “I wish more students knew about it.”

Jackie Reed, graduate student from Cave-In-Rock, Ill., said she had been at The Arboretum since 6:30 a.m. the morning of the event with fellow students to prepare for the event.

“The mountain brought the crowd,” Reed said. She said it felt like the foot traffic and the “Friends of The Arboretum” memberships had doubled in the past year.

While snacking on their appetizers, attendees enjoyed live music from The Drunken Poets and stand-up comedy from Bob McGaughey and Bob Valentine.

A musician from The Drunken Poets, David Dick, is a Murray State alumnus from the horticulture department. As a student, he was involved in the development of The Arboretum.

“It was nothing but corn,” Dick said. “We had a small department and we had to do a lot of work.”

Dick said that horticulture is a crucial study.

Stanley Pullen and his wife, Mabel Pullen, donated the land The Arboretum was built on.

“The Pullens donating this land to the University is a huge advantage,” Clark-Collins said. Stanley was the first full-time teacher and chairman of the agriculture department at Murray State Normal School, which was the University’s original name.

The Arboretum includes a two-mile walking park accessible to the public.

Trees and plants native to this area have been planted in The Arboretum. It is a horticultural display that, “will become one of largest and most diverse collections of plants in western Kentucky,” according to The Arboretum’s website.

The Hutson School of Agriculture also hires student workers to maintain the grounds at The Arboretum and classes are occasionally held for more hands-on experience.

Robin Davidson from Benton, Ky., attended the Gala and said she enjoyed her first experience at The Arboretum.

“If you need a place to get away from everything else, this is great,” she said.

She said it was her first time at The Arboretum, but that she would probably be back when the weather cooled off.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Davisson said.


Story by Mari-Alice Jasper, Staff writer