Alum’s $3.2 Million Gift To Fund Arboretum Expansion, Student Scholarship

Penn State alumnus Tom Young and his wife, Mary Jo, have pledged a new $3.2 million estate gift that will contribute to the Arboretum and create an undergraduate scholarship in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

The Thomas A. and Mary Jo Young Undergraduate Scholarship in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management will be available to full-time third and fourth-year students with financial needs. Meanwhile, the Thomas A. and Mary Jo Young Woodland Gardens in The Arboretum at Penn State will connect the H. O. Smith Botanic Gardens and the Arboretum’s Hartley Wood, encompassing about seven acres of land.

“This seemed like a perfect fit because of our backgrounds in education and the natural sciences,” Tom said in a release. Tom, a 1976 graduate, holds a degree in forest science and has held a successful career as a forester in West Virginia and Maryland.

“I love the idea that it can be an outdoor classroom and that children can learn to appreciate the outdoors, among other lessons,” said Mary Jo, a retired teacher. “It will also provide an opportunity for all who visit to expand their knowledge of native and non-native tree species and shrubs.”

Sanford Smith, the Arboretum’s interim director, said the scholarship and grounds expansion will create a brighter future for students who hope to learn more about managing, restoring, and conserving the environment.

The Youngs credited Dr. Kim Steiner, the retired director of the Arboretum, for mapping out a concept for the Woodland Gardens. Tom also thanked Development Director Patrick Williams and Director of Operations Shari Edelson for their knowledgeable assistance throughout the project.

“We’re helping a small group of people via a scholarship, but with the gift to the Arboretum, we are helping possibly thousands of people enjoy nature,” Tom said.

For now, it’s not immediately clear when the Woodland Gardens is expected to finish construction. The Arboretum is currently busy building Penn State’s new Palmer Museum of Art.

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About the Author

Sydney Burns

Sydney is a sophomore majoring in English and comparative literature and is one of Onward State's contributors. She is always reading and will spend too long trying to explain her current read to you. On campus, she the passionate president of the Comparative Literature club and a member of Triota. For more literary musings, follow her on Twitter @sydneyymburns or email her at [email protected].

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