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MSU Receives The Crosby Arboretum
PICAYUNE -- Already boasting a presence in every county in the state through the extension service, Mississippi State University now has another significant presence in South Mississippi.
In a Sept. 15 ceremony, the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune formally became part of MSU. Valued at $5 million, the arboretum was established in 1980 as a living memorial to L.O. Crosby Jr., a South Mississippi timber pioneer and philanthropist.
The Crosby Foundation donated the arboretum in July, culminating a long-standing relationship between the university and the arboretum. The partnership ensures the long-term future of this beautiful and important piece of Mississippi's natural history.
Dr. Donald Zacharias, MSU president, called the arboretum a state and national treasure.
"The arboretum will play an increasingly important role in the years ahead in educating Mississippians about their natural heritage and the vast importance of natural resources to our state," Zacharias said.
"There is a perfect match between the mission of the arboretum and that of the university, with its extensive programs of teaching and research in a variety of fields related to natural resources," Zacharias said.
The Crosby Arboretum manages more than 1,000 acres in seven natural areas, supporting more than 700 species of native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers. It houses a 64-acre Interpretive Center which includes visitor facilities.
Dr. Rodney Foil, vice president for the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, said the arboretum will serve more people through the alliance with the university.
"It is expected that collaborative research involving the Crosby staff and university faculty members will substantially increase the activity and utility of the arboretum," Foil said.
The center of arboretum activities is Pinecote Pavilion, an award-winning facility designed to be an artistic and functional part of the Interpretive Center. The pavilion hosts classes and events, and offers a place for quiet reflection on nature.
In addition to displaying the region's natural beauty, the arboretum gives courses and seminars in botany, horticulture and landscape architecture. Monthly, the arboretum offers weekend programs, guided tours and field trips.
MSU has been involved with the Crosby Arboretum since it was founded by the family. The late Dr. William L. Giles, former MSU president, served on the first board of directors, and an MSU botanist, forestry professor and landscape architect were involved in the facility design. The arboretum's first employee was an MSU graduate.
With the additional resources MSU brings to the facility, further research, education and service programs will extend the arboretum's resources and offer opportunities for expanded use.