Southeastern receives plant donations from area nurseries

Thursday, August 21, 2014 Plant donations
by: Tonya Lowentritt

PLANTING FOR A GREENER TOMORROW – Staff from the Southeastern Louisiana University Physical Plant and Services Department unload and organize some of the nearly 500 plants donated to the university by Bracy's Nursery in Amite, Windmill Nursery in Franklinton, and former nursery owner David Lowery. The plants will be used across campus to create more green spaces. From left are Carlos Doolittle, Clint Rushing and John Blackwell.

HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University has received a sizeable donation of plants to be used in landscaping various parts of the Hammond campus.

Donations of nearly 500 plants were recently collected from Bracy's Nursery in Amite, Windmill Nursery in Franklinton, and former nursery owner David Lowery.

Southeastern Foundation Executive Board Member and Chairman-Elect Cynthia Hutchinson-Nesser was responsible for securing the donations. She says it all started with a tour of the Southeastern Sustainability Center, a facility that serves as the focus of the university's recycling and energy conservation efforts.

"Byron Patterson (Physical Plant director) walked me through the Sustainability Center plans, the green houses and other areas where they keep and cultivate plants for use on the campus," Hutchinson-Nesser said. "I asked him about his plant material, and he said that with the budget cuts over recent years, he no longer had the funds to purchase landscaping material."

Hutchinson-Nesser has nursery contacts through her own company and decided to reach out to them for help. She asked Patterson for a wish list of materials.

"By getting a precise wish list together, Byron's team gave me something I could go after and, in turn, give the donors some specific options," she said. "If I would have written asking for just landscaping material in general, then there would have been a lot of wasted time going back and forth."

Both Bracy's and Windmill Nurseries responded with enthusiastic willingness to help, she said. Additionally, Lowery, who used to own his own nursery but now works for Windmill, had plants of his own to donate as well.

Carlos Doolittle, director of landscaping, grounds and recycling at Southeastern, said that even during budget constraints, the landscape division has endeavored to continue improving campus outdoor spaces through student-generated funds.

"We are grateful to the Student Government Association for their financial support of our projects," he said. "The recent generosity of local plant vendors expands our potential."

Doolittle added that new students and visitors to campus are experiencing and forming first impressions of Southeastern long before they actually get to their destination or make a decision about applying.

"They may have already driven through our campus, parked in our parking areas, and walked on our sidewalks," he said. "The responsibility for keeping and maintaining the beauty of our campus is something we take seriously. We have more work to do, and the generosity of these vendors places our goals a little closer to accomplishment."

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