COLLEGE STATION, TX – Aggie maroon benches, blooms of pink and purple and a pathway lined with fresh green bushes-the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences now has its very own garden.
Tucked into a nook between the Veterinary Medical Sciences (VMS) and the Veterinary Medical Administration (VMA) buildings, the garden was created through the joint efforts of a veterinary student organization with a concern for the environment-Green Vets-and a veterinarian with a passion for plants-Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon. Both aimed to develop the garden as a green retreat for students.
“Students spend hours every day in class. The garden will provide them with an outdoor space that is good for their mind, body and spirit,” said Blue-McLendon, faculty representative of Green Vets. “Also, the garden is right outside the Fishbowl, which is a popular student lounge area. So students can come out there and study if they would like instead of being inside.”
Former president of Green Vets and a major driving force behind the garden, Shawn McCorkle, hopes that the plants will attract wildlife such as birds and butterflies to the area.
In addition to being an environmental endeavor, the creation of the garden has been an exercise in persistence and partnership. While Green Vets raised funds for the garden through a garage sale, Blue-McLendon designed the garden plan and selected plants from local nurseries. This service-learning project also attracted help from other areas. The Texas A&M University landscape department helped Green Vets modify the sprinkler system and student employees of the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center used “Aggie Engineering” to pressure wash the concrete area (previously a bike parking lot) and place a 700-pound boulder in the garden. Also, a service grant from the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association contributed to funding support.
Besides Green Vets members and student volunteers, McCorkle is especially grateful to faculty for their help in seeing this year-long project through.
“We hit several bumps along the way. But Dr. Blue-McLendon and Dr. Rogers, associate dean for professional programs, were always there to lend Green Vets their support. We couldn’t have done it without them,” expressed McCorkle.
The garden, which will be dedicated as the “Green Vets Native Garden” or the “Green Vets Native and Adapted Garden,” has about 25 plants such as Homestead Verbena, crape myrtle and New Gold Lantana. Most of the plants are native to Texas, while the few non-native ones are adapted to withstand a very hot climate.
Future plans for the garden include a rock border. Also, in the courtyard just in front of the garden, two additional benches will be placed.
Small-group teaching is another use for the garden that the organization envisions.
“Anything we can do to get students outside where there is fresh air is a good thing,” remarked Blue-McLendon.
The garden is currently being looked after by Green Vets members. The organization is looking for volunteers to work in the garden on a regular basis.
If you would like to sign up as a garden volunteer, please contact Christine Cao, Secretary/Garden Chair of Green Vets at CKCao@cvm.tamu.edu.
For more information on the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website: vetmed.tamu.edu.