TURLOCK — A project that was a dream of a former Cal State Stanislaus Faculty Athletic Representative is becoming a reality this week on campus.
A groundbreaking ceremony for an arboretum featuring native trees and plants of the Central Valley, foothills, and High Sierra on the California State University, Stanislaus campus will be held in the University’s Naraghi Hall of Science lobby on Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 p.m.
Envisioned more than 30 years ago by longtime CSU Stanislaus Biological Sciences faculty member Wayne Pierce as an instructional tool about the native trees, shrubs, and plants of Central California, the California Pathway Project is springing back to life with the next phase of its development. The project was initiated by Pierce in the mid-1980s when 300 Valley Oak tree seedlings were planted on the south side of the campus by students, faculty, staff, and volunteers. Since then, the trees have matured and stand as a testament to future plans for the project and as an outdoor laboratory for students and research projects.
Pierce died in August 2008, but his wife, Donna Pierce of Turlock, has sought to move the project into its next phase. Plans call for an extensively landscaped winding pathway along the southeast side of the campus from Geer Road to the oak tree grove near the Naraghi Hall of Science that will include native trees, plants, and shrubs along with a series of streams and water features.
“The Pathway, as envisioned by Wayne Pierce who dedicated himself to its development, will be an educational and natural attraction that can be enjoyed not only by our own students, but by the community as a whole,” CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani said. “California State University, Stanislaus is grateful to Donna Pierce for her generosity and determination to make a unique addition to the campus.”
Donna Pierce said her husband put his heart and soul into teaching science and would love the idea of students benefitting from this project for generations to come. “I can’t think of a better way to honor him, and our shared values of preservation, conservation, and education,” she said.
A \$40,000 donation by Donna Pierce, combined with memorial gifts for her husband who served on the CSU Stanislaus faculty for 35 years are helping to launch the next phase of the project, which includes installation of underground water lines and electrical utilities. Future development of the project will include interpretive displays, geological and cultural exhibits, and art work.
Wayne Pierce served as Faculty Representative to Athletics for 25 years, teaming with his wife, Donna, as two of the most enthusiastic boosters of Warrior sports. Wayne was inducted into the Warrior Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of his dedication to the University’s sports programs and Donna joined him there in 2006.