KINGSTON, R.I. – May 3, 2007 – The Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association has been a long-time supporter of the University of Rhode Island. Its members plant a tree on campus every year in memory of a deceased member of the group; they donated $150,000 in plants and labor to create the URI Learning Landscape in 1994 and established a $50,000 endowment to maintain it; and they provided $50,000 to support the hiring of a new horticulture faculty member in 2006.
This spring the group has added another major gift to this growing list. They established a $100,000 endowment to provide an annual four-year scholarship to students studying plant sciences, horticulture, turf science and related fields. The gift is part of URI’s “Making a Difference” campaign.
“URI is a priority for us,” explained RINLA Treasurer Joe Majeika, a 1982 graduate of URI and owner of Westcott Perennials in Ashaway. “URI students are the future of our industry in Rhode Island.”
“Most of the members of our association are URI alumni, so we have close ties there,” added RINLA Executive Director Ken Lagerquist, who graduated from URI in 1954. “And we turn to URI professors whenever we have a problem to solve.”
The association consists of 350 firms representing arborists, nurseries, landscape architects, turf professionals, landscapers and others. Together they provide more than $300 million to the Rhode Island economy each year, according to Lagerquist.
“Our members are extremely generous,” said Jean Cotta, RINLA president, owner of Portsmouth Nursery, and a 1987 URI graduate. “We sponsor a golf tournament every year to raise money for this scholarship, and we hope to keep adding to it every year. In addition, 10 percent of our membership dues are designated for scholarships, and another 10 percent goes to support research for the industry.”
Faculty, staff and students in the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, along with its Department of Plant Sciences and Cooperative Extension, are the primary beneficiaries of the association’s generosity, according to Catherine Sullivan, associate dean of the College.
“We’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association,” Sullivan said, “and it is heartening to know that the industry has gained as much from the partnership as the University has. We appreciate their loyalty and generosity, and we look forward to working together for many more years.”
The “Making a Difference” campaign seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives.
Scholarship Donation: Celebrating the establishment of a new scholarship for URI students studying the plant sciences are (l-r) RINLA Treasurer Joe Majeika, URI Associate Dean Catherine Sullivan, URI Dean Jeff Seemann, RINLA President Jean Cotta, and RINLA Executive Director Ken Lagerquist. URI News Bureau Photo by Michael Salerno Photography.