With more than 4,500 different species of plants spread across 26 acres of land, Cal State Fullerton’s Arboretum is helping California preserve its agricultural history. Housing the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum, the restored Victorian Heritage House and a luxurious botanical garden, the Fullerton Arboretum serves as a natural classroom to students, faculty, staff and the general public.
“We are like an Arc in that we save species that are no longer in existence or near extinction,” said Greg Dyment, director of the Fullerton Arboretum. “There is a history behind every piece, and people come here to learn about the region’s agricultural history.”
In addition to entertaining nearly 120,000 visitors through “how to” workshops, farmer’s markets, plant fairs and annual events, the Arboretum serves as a valuable teaching and learning resource for students. The Arboretum works with numerous campus departments, including biology, history, kinesiology and art. In fact, students and faculty from the geology department worked with the Arboretum staff to help map the flow of water underneath the garden. The research was shared with the Orange County Water District and helped to grow the District’s knowledge of the groundwater present in Orange County.
“Information gained from research in the Arboretum is shared with departments throughout Orange County,” said Chris Barnhill, the living collection curator at the Arboretum. “We help students see science in action.”
Students also work and learn in the Museum and Heritage House, where they can act as curators and put historical displays together, create art pieces for the décor of the buildings, and learn techniques to preserve the living and non-living collection.
Founded in 1976 as a joint project between the CSU and Orange County Redevelopment Agency, the Arboretum was originally responsible for serving as the official preserver of the nation’s citrus collection. Now, the Arboretum has bloomed into an education greenhouse and an ever-growing collection of Mediterranean, Woodland, Desert and Cultivated plants.