One year ago this month, Purdue University Northwest (PNW) acquired the 300-acre Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso, Indiana through a donation of the $12 million preserve by founders Damien and Rita Gabis and the Taltree board of directors.
The arboretum was soon renamed Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest in tribute to the Gabis family’s generosity, and plans to build on the Gabis’ founding vision for the arboretum quickly started.
“Since accepting the generous gift of Gabis Arboretum, we’ve realized that the opportunities for expanding Purdue Northwest’s vision and impact in Northwest Indiana through this magnificent resource are limitless,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon.
Keon noted Gabis Arboretum compliments PNW’s focus on enhancing the quality of life in the region; advancing economic development and sustainability within the region; and providing educational and research opportunities for people throughout Northwest Indiana and beyond.
With more than six miles of hiking trails, formal gardens and a unique collection of oak species, the arboretum is a valuable resource for Purdue Northwest faculty, students and the public.
“The PNW faculty are eager to lead public classes and workshops at the arboretum,” said Gabis Arboretum Executive Director Stephanie Blackstock, noting that the 2019 programs and events calendar will be released in the coming weeks.
The arboretum hosts educational programs such as field trips and public classes focusing on the specific ecosystems found at the arboretum-woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. In addition, its award-winning Railway Garden tells the amazing history and impact of the steam engine on the United States Civil War, America’s westward expansion and the industrial revolution.
While remaining a resource to its members, volunteers and the community, the arboretum hosted introductory events and tours for PNW faculty and staff this past year. This opened doors to resource-sharing and enhanced educational experiences for PNW students and the community.
Administratively, Blackstock said the focus has been on branding the new name and merging various business practices. For example, the Gabis Arboretum office was relocated to one driveway east of the main entrance to offer easier accessibility to guests.
Blackstock is optimistic about the future of PNW’s connection with Gabis Arboretum in the year ahead. She said, “We hope to engage faculty and students in research projects and internships in the future.”