ACS’ Seniors’ “Grow the Gardens” Leaves Lasting Legacy at SIUE

A team of four SIUE Applied Communication Studies undergraduates pursuing their senior assignment project in public relations helped coordinate the Grow the Gardens event. The students are Alyssa Almasalmeh, of Creve Coeur, Mo., Luke Jansen, of Effingham, Ethan Massey, of Marine, and Matthew Zahn, of Belleville. The team was coordinated by Sorin Nastasia, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Applied Communication Studies, who teaches the public relations senior assignment course.

“When presented the opportunity to work with Marian and The Gardens at SIUE, we saw a chance to make a marked difference in the community before we graduate in May,” said Almasalmeh. “Our primary goals include creating a lasting support system for The Gardens, raising funds to help make necessary improvements and repairs, raising awareness of The Gardens current status and needs, and sharing future plans.”

“The awareness campaigns that student teams organize for community clients such as The Gardens at SIUE constitute a high impact community engagement practice and contribute to the growth of our region” said Nastasia. “Through their senior assignment projects, students gain valuable experience that is the last step in their preparation for the profession, while the community clients increase their organizational capacity.”

“Community collaboration is crucial for this living laboratory and gorgeous venue to flourish,” added Zahn. “Donations, grant funding and volunteer efforts will keep The Gardens growing and thriving in the future. We hope the community will join us for this exciting event to show their support and appreciation for The Gardens at SIUE.”

“The Gardens at SIUE are a beautiful treasure of the campus and the Edwardsville community,” said Master Gardener Marian Smithson, chair of The Gardens at SIUE Advisory Board. “Funds raised at this event will support the vitality of this natural gem, as The Gardens relies on private funding. It provides a rare opportunity for donors to support education, the environment, the community and the future.”

The Gardens at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s sold-out “Grow the Gardens” event successfully raised nearly $12,000 to support its continued efforts of growth and sustainability on Friday, April 13 at the Wildey Theatre.

The fundraiser event featured an evening of networking, food and engaging entertainment from The Dueling Pianos, featuring Mike Sonderegger and Cam Brown.

Promotion of this faculty-guided student effort was also supported by an SIUE Meridian Society Award.

For more information on The Gardens at SIUE, visit

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