Education and Visitor Center will enhance McCrory Gardens

Since it was established as a public garden in 1964, McCrory Gardens has long been considered one of the jewels of Brookings and South Dakota State University. The gardens will soon become a year-round destination, thanks to a growing group of generous donors who are funding a one-of-a-kind educational and visitor facility.

Construction on the 9,350-square-foot McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center began in November 2010 and is expected to be done this fall. The $4.2 million privately funded center will play vital educational and functional roles for its guests, SDSU students and faculty, and the community.

The center’s front will face the north.


The new facility will link McCrory’s formal display gardens and the arboretum, says Martin Maca, associate director of planning and development at McCrory Gardens.

The Education and Visitor Center will serve an educational role with its classrooms, lecture hall, and outdoor laboratory. It also will play an important role in continuing education for a wide range of groups, says Barry Dunn, South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

“This new center will be able to provide space for Extension Master Gardener classes and other Extension programs, and be a place where workshops, continuing education classes, and other education goals can be achieved,” says Dunn. “It will also be an off-campus site for SDSU classes to visit, as well as a community-centered location for events and gatherings.”

The entrance to the Education and Visitor Center will be on 22nd Avenue, the east side of the gardens. It will house two meeting rooms, a great hall, a help desk, coffee shop, and gift shop.

An anonymous donor has enabled the commission of a bronze sculpture inspired by celebrated South Dakota painter Harvey Dunn’s “The Prairie is My Garden.” Dee Clements, a South Dakota native and renowned sculptor, is creating the piece in his studio in Loveland, Colorado.


A south-facing plaza at the rear of the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center will create a graceful transition into the gardens.

The McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center is a project of It Starts with STATE: A Campaign for South Dakota State University.


In October, University and SDSU Foundation leadership announced a goal to raise a historic $200 million in the six-year campaign, which is scheduled to conclude Dec. 31, 2012.

Sponsorship and naming opportunities for the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center are available. To learn how you may become involved in the project, contact Lucy Forman at the SDSU Foundation by phone
at 888-747-7378, or e-mail her at:

To learn more about the project or to make a gift online, visit

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