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Smiths' $1.8 Million Donation to Fund New Bird Garden at the Arboretum

by on June 15, 2018 10:23 AM

The Arboretum at Penn State will add a new bird garden, thanks to a donation from a Penn State alumnus and his family.

State College resident Charles "Skip" Smith, who has been instrumental in funding the creation and development of the Arboretum, along with his sons David, Jeffry and John, committed $1.8 million to launch construction of the garden, which will be designed to attract birds year-round and help to educate Arboretum visitors.

The garden will include bird-friendly plants, feeders, nesting boxes, water sources and more, along with a roofed pavilion.

“With the Bird Garden we hope to create a highly aesthetic garden setting that is purposefully designed to provide nesting habitats and a source of fruits, seeds, insects, and water as nourishment for birds,” said Kim Steiner, director of the Arboretum and professor of forest biology, in a news release. “I am deeply grateful to Skip and his sons, David, Jeffry and John, for enabling us to create this beautiful and enriching addition to the Arboretum.”

Construction on the garden is expected to begin in 2019. Donors who wish to make a gift to name a space in the bird garden can contact Patrick Williams at [email protected] or 814-865-0441.

“With spring in full bloom and summer approaching, the Arboretum is showcasing the beauty and life of the season,” Skip Smith said. “It's fun to play a role in creating such a wonderful haven for birds, bees, plants and trees — all of which make central Pennsylvania a great place to call home. Dave, Jeff, John and I are pleased to be a part of something so special.”

Skip Smith, a 1948 Penn State graduate and the founder of State College Audio-Visual Supply, has played a significant role in the Arboretum over the past decade. His lead gift of $10 million enabled initial construction in 2009 and a major donation along with the Hintz family in 2012 helped create the Children's Garden. He recently made a series of gifts totaling $4.5 million to support construction of a new pollinators' garden, which also received a $1 million donation from Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis.

“It is particularly inspiring to see Skip’s sons build on the legacy Skip has created as a champion of the Arboretum and everything this resource embodies, from natural beauty to cutting-edge research," said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. 

A rendering of the planned bird garden at the Arboretum at Penn State. Image: Marshall Tyler Rausch

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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