Gardens director grows community, campus involvement

Jane Drake, director of The Gardens, left SIUE March 7 to relocate to Billings, Mont., with her family.

Drake said it has been “such a privilege to steward the development of our beautiful gardens at SIUE.

“Our gardens represent such a unique opportunity, not just for our institution, but for our broader Metro East community,” Drake said. “I’d like to send a heartfelt thanks to all of the talented and generous people who continue to support The Gardens. The Gardens at SIUE is a largely self-funded non-profit, so community support is vital to our growth and success.”

In her two years as director, Drake has grown educational and outreach opportunities at The Gardens. The Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois can earn three badges, while Eagle Scouts have provided “several new projects.”

Drake has also worked to increase cross-campus collaborations, creating a bridge between academics and the community with seasonal events and gardening classes.

She revised The Gardens master plan in 2012 as well with input from faculty, Friends of the Gardens and the community. Additionally, Drake installed “several capital projects in support of the renewed vision for The Gardens.”

SIUE students continue to play a significant role in The Gardens.

“I am so thankful for our student gardeners—a talented and dynamic crew who works hard day after day in all kinds of weather to keep us looking good,” Drake said. “Student volunteers have contributed record-setting numbers of hours in the last two years. We simply couldn’t do what we do without them.”

Drake earned a Master’s in biology from SIUE.

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