Alumni sponsor campus garden for student inspiration, community gathering

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Growing up in a family of farmers and gardeners, Suzann Tedesco spent her summers with her grandparents picking, harvesting and freezing vegetables and growing flowers. Her children, now adults, have all taken an interest in home gardening as well.

Honoring a family tradition that spans generations, Tedesco and her husband, Vincent “Vin” Tedesco, both Penn State alumni, recently sponsored a garden at Penn State located between the Henderson and Biobehavioral Health buildings, the same area on campus where Suzann Tedesco spent much of her time as an undergraduate student studying home economics in the early 1960s.

“I see it first and foremost as a place where students can sit down and be outside. I also see it as a family gathering place. I hope our children will find the garden as a place of inspiration,” said Suzann Tedesco. “The garden represents family and how Penn State can become a place where families, several generations, come together.”

Both Suzann and Vin Tedesco are first-generation college graduates. Vin Tedesco was a member of the Army ROTC and studied business. As alumni, Suzann and Vin Tedesco have given back to the University in various ways, such as volunteering their time and contributing to scholarships and endowments.

“Neither one of us came from wealthy families, and Penn State enabled us to have a very rich and fulfilling life. We feel it’s important to give back,” Vin Tedesco said. “We hope that undergraduates will see the garden and it will inspire them to one day also give back.”

Despite the Tedescos and their children moving about 30 times while Vin served in the U.S. Army, the family still managed to develop a sense of home, which they found in the Penn State community. Not only did the couple meet at Penn State and marry at the chapel on campus, but all three children received degrees from Penn State. Eventually, Suzann and Vin Tedesco returned to State College where they still reside today.

“Penn State gave both of us careers that we enjoyed and provided a home for our children and a source of pride,” Vin Tedesco said.

Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, dedicated the Suzann Andrews Tedesco Family Garden during a July 1 ceremony.

“The Tedesco Garden is a special oasis of green that celebrates natural beauty and tranquility in the midst of a bustling campus. Its beauty attracts students, faculty and staff all year because it is a peaceful place to study, eat one's lunch, chat with a friend, meet with a colleague, or simply catch one's breath. Suzann and Vin's decision to honor this garden says so much about them, their love of Penn State and their recognition that the physical beauty of our campus is part of its magic, and their generous spirit,” Crouter said.

Since returning to the area, Suzann Tedesco continued her passion for gardening by completing a rigorous certification process to become a Master Gardener, offered through Penn State Extension. It is a volunteer program that takes people with an interest and enthusiasm for horticulture and gives them basic training in a broad range of horticulture topics. In exchange for the training, volunteers are expected to give 20 hours of volunteer time each year to help Penn State Extension better serve the home gardening audience.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit giveto.psu.edu.

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Last Updated September 19, 2017