It was a time to express appreciation to elected officials who played a role in Cal State Fullerton recently being awarded $2 million in state appropriations. The Fullerton Arboretum is the recipient of $1 million and the additional $1 million will be used as seed money for the planning of “The Gateway” pedestrian bridge that will link the campus’ College Park building with the main campus across Nutwood Avenue.
“It is so nice to see everyone in person,” said CSUF President Fram Virjee as he welcomed the honorees and visitors to the Fullerton Arboretum. “After 19 months, we are delighted to welcome you back to campus.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fullerton Arboretum was closed. Events and fundraisers were canceled, and such community favorites as the 2020 Veggiepalooza plant sale weren’t held (although the seedlings were distributed among many local community gardens and food banks). Those who sought the arboretum grounds as a quiet, calm refuge from their busy lives weren’t allowed to visit due to pandemic protocols.
The arboretum usually attracts 150,000 guests a year, offers programs for K-12 students, serves as a “living laboratory” for scientists and naturalists, and provides a stunning backdrop for musicians and artists.
CSUF students Amy Heil and Mitsue Escobar, who are both environmental studies graduate students, described how their participation in classes and the U-ACRE Project (that provides high impact experiential research opportunities at the arboretum learning farm) helped them develop new knowledge, skills and appreciation for agro-ecology.
“We are fortunate that our elected state officials, such as assembly members Sharon Quirk Silva and Tom Daly, along with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Supervisor Doug Chaffee from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, stepped in to help during this difficult time,” said Virjee.
Virjee noted that the planned pedestrian bridge will provide a safer route for the thousands of students, faculty and staff who must cross the busy intersection each day.
“There are about 25,000 vehicles that travel through that intersection daily,” Virjee said. “The pedestrian bridge will not only enhance safety but improve traffic flow and connect our campus. Special thanks to State Assembly Members Philip Chen and State Sen. Josh Newman for their efforts on our behalf.”
Elected officials who were thanked for serving as “amazing advocates” on behalf of Cal State Fullerton included U.S. Rep. Young Kim, Rendon, Newman, Quirk Silva, Chaffee and Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker. All were gifted a sycamore tree seedling.
“We are truly thankful for all your support,” said Greg Dyment, director of the Fullerton Arboretum, in closing. “It was very tough being closed for 19 months and this assistance will go a long way toward helping us create an environment for research, teaching and community engagement.”