The sold-out Grow the Gardens event raised nearly $12,000 for The Gardens at SIUE.

EDWARDSVILLE - The Gardens at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s sold-out “Grow the Gardens” event successfully raised nearly $12,000 to support its continued efforts of growth and sustainability on Friday, April 13 at the Wildey Theatre.

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The event’s 150 guests included SIUE campus community members, The Gardens at SIUE volunteers, community leaders and garden visitors. They enjoyed an evening of education from Marian Smithson, chair of The Gardens at SIUE Advisory Board and SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook, as well as rocking entertainment from dueling pianos duo Mike Sonderegger and Cam Brown.

A team of four SIUE Applied Communication Studies (ACS) undergraduates coordinated the event as a part of their senior assignment project in public relations. The students included Alyssa Almasalmeh, of Creve Coeur, Mo., Luke Jansen, of Effingham, Ethan Massey, of Marine, and Matthew Zahn, of Belleville. The team was advised by Sorin Nastasia, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Applied Communication Studies.

“We were delighted to have a large group of campus and extended community members attend to demonstrate their support for the vitality of The Gardens at SIUE, especially given the State of Illinois’ financial issues,” Smithson said. “We thank Chancellor Pembrook for being with us, and extend our gratitude to the four ACS students and Dr. Nastasia for helping us produce this special event.”

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“It was wonderful to see so many community members and SIUE faculty and staff attend our event,” said Zahn. “After nine months of planning and executing our campaign proposal, we are thrilled that we were able to help our beautiful campus woodland garden continue to serve the SIUE and surrounding community.”

This event was generously supported by the SIUE Meridian Society and presenting sponsors, KCH Financial and Home Nursery, Inc.

“This event simply could not have been possible without our generous sponsors and guests,” added Massey. “We cannot express enough gratitude to the community that opened their hearts to support the continued growth of The Gardens at SIUE.”

For more information on The Gardens at SIUE, visit

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose to shape a changing world. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.

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