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Legacy Campaign helps grow future of The Arboretum

The Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center at The Arboretum
The Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center at The Arboretum

PHOTO: Steve Patton
LEXINGTON, Ky., -

Construction of Phase 2 of The Arboretum’s Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center is a step closer with the recent kickoff of The Arboretum Legacy Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1.2 million to enhance the future of The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky.

The new campaign was announced during the Friends of the Arboretum annual meeting Aug. 25. The goal is to raise $1 million for the construction of Phase 2 of the visitor center and $200,000 for an endowment to support the facilities and educational programs.

“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.”

Dorotha Smith Oatts has pledged $350,000 in the form of a challenge gift to kick off the Legacy Campaign. In 2000, Oatts challenged the community to match her personal contribution to build a center that would house educational space and staff offices. Since the visitor center was completed, annually more than 12,000 people have attended classes and events there. Thousands more take advantage of the walking trail and living classrooms throughout the property’s 100 acres. Including the current gift, Oatts’s contributions now exceed $500,000.

“Mrs. Oatts keenly understands the importance of The Arboretum to the community,” said Amy VanMeter, assistant director for development in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Her generosity has been instrumental in transforming a young arboretum into the State Botanical Garden and will provide educational opportunities for future generations. We hope her most recent challenge gift will encourage other generous donors to invest in the future and create their own legacy.”

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. The terrace will provide a demonstration area for developing outdoor living spaces that extend the indoor space into the landscape.

In addition, Oatts will match $100,000 dollar-for-dollar to go for the endowment.

To qualify for the matching funds, all contributions must be received before December 31, 2016. The Arboretum will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016. 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.

The Arboretum was created in 1991 as a joint effort between the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. It is managed through the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

For more information, call Amy VanMeter at 859-257-7211 or send email to amyvan@uky.edu; Marci Hicks at 859-257-7200 or mahick2@uky.edu or Vange Lear at 859-338-6778 or clear13@aol.com.

Contact: 

Amy VanMeter, 859-257-7211; Marci Hicks, 859-257-7200

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