Investment from Skip Smith to launch construction of Pollinators' Garden

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Investment from Penn State alumnus and leading philanthropist Charles H. “Skip” Smith will enable The Arboretum at Penn State to fulfill its longstanding vision for a garden that will attract and sustain native pollinator species of birds and insects. Smith, whose founding gift launched construction of the Arboretum in 2010, has made a series of gifts totaling $4.5 million to support construction of a new and enhanced Pollinators’ Garden in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The gifts — together with commitments from other donors — complete the project’s initial fundraising goal of $5.3 million and will allow construction to begin.

“Just over a decade ago, Skip Smith enabled the University’s longstanding plans for an arboretum to come to fruition,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “These plans had always included a world-class pollinators’ garden, and once again we owe a debt to Skip for enabling the full scope of that vision to become reality.”

While a version of the Pollinators’ Garden currently exists in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, the new Pollinators’ Garden will be greatly improved and expanded, according to Kim Steiner, director of the Arboretum and professor of forest biology. The conceptual design for the garden was prepared by Missy Marshall from the landscape architecture firm Pashek+MTR.

“The garden will tell the story of pollinators and their relationship to plants and the food we eat,” said Steiner. “Unique in the botanical garden world, the garden will be associated with ongoing pollinator research at Penn State, especially undergraduate research, and an important part of its mission will be public outreach. A goal of the garden’s research will be to learn how to attract all of the hundreds of native pollinators in central Pennsylvania. This knowledge is essential to an understanding of how to counteract declining populations of native pollinators.”

“It has been a real delight to see the Arboretum quite literally grow and flourish through the years and to have played a role in this growth,” said Smith. “It’s a pleasure now to support the construction of a new pollinators’ garden that will be a haven to birds, bees, and visitors alike, and I hope that this new space — like the Arboretum as a whole — will offer tranquility for all who visit.”

A resident of State College, Smith graduated from Penn State with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1948. Along with his brothers and fellow Penn State graduates James B. Smith and Thomas L. Smith, Skip joined his father in the firm H.O. Smith and Sons, a real estate development and rental company established in 1951. In 1950 he also founded State College Television Co., now State College Audio-Visual Supply, owned by his son John. In addition to his sustained and significant support for the Arboretum, Smith has given $5 million to support brain repair research in the Eberly College of Science. He stands among the most generous donors in Penn State’s history.

The Arboretum is continuing to seek gifts from alumni and friends who wish to name a space within the new Pollinators’ Garden. To discuss how you can become involved, contact Patrick Williams, director of development for the Arboretum, at or 814-865-0441.

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 doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; create transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impact the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

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Last Updated June 20, 2018