The Arboretum, the state's official botanical garden, has kicked off a $1.2 million campaign to expand the visitor center and create an endowment for educational programs.
The Arboretum Legacy Campaign was announced Sunday during the annual Friends of the Arboretum meeting. Longtime donor Dorotha Smith Oatts pledged a $350,000 challenge grant. She kickstarted the campaign for the current visitor's center in 2000 which is named in her honor.
Oatts has pledged a dollar-for-dollar challenge gift of $250,000 to go toward a 2,150 square-foot addition to the existing visitor center, including a renovated classroom/exhibition space. Phase 2 will also feature offices, conference room, research room, storage, kitchen, reception and gift shop areas and an outdoor terrace.
In addition, Oatts will match $100,000 dollar-for-dollar for what is planned to be a $200,000 endowment to support facilities and educational programming.
"The Arboretum, being a valuable ecological classroom for thousands of people, is an essential component of our land-grant mission of outreach and instruction," said Scott Smith, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment dean. "It is because of the vision and hard work of a dedicated staff and many, many devoted volunteers that The Arboretum has succeeded."
Since the visitors' center was completed, more than 12,000 people a year have attended classes and events there. Thousands more walk through the property's 100 acres next to the University of Kentucky campus, officials said.
To qualify for the matching funds, all contributions must be received before December 31, 2016, the same year the Arboretum will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Gifts of $500 or more will be recognized in the Book of Appreciation. Contributions of more than $5,000 will be recognized in an artistic manner in the Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center. Naming opportunities for individual areas may also be available.
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