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Greenhouse, 2023

Greenhouse gift to help UD Biology students 'get their hands dirty'

By Cara Zinski-Neace

On top of the cracks and worn concrete of an old tennis court at Old River Park springs new life in the form of abundant vegetable and flower gardens, hives of honey bees, chickens and now a state of the art greenhouse. It is a spiritual and educational place, the result of a gift in honor of a University of Dayton alumnus known for her sunshine-like smile.

Ginny’s Garden and Greenhouse was dedicated in late September in honor of Virginia “Ginny” Ferron ‘81 who passed away in 2016. The gift of the greenhouse took time to grow into a reality and was a labor of love planted by Ginny’s husband, Rick Borth, and their two sons, David and Eric, both UD double graduates.

“She was the CFO and heart that guided us through our family life,” Rick Borth shared during the dedication ceremony. “Her positive attitude, ambition, compassion and loving spirit for people and our planet touched us all and will stay with us and inspire us always.”

For Rick Borth and his sons, it was important to fund something to support and enhance UD’s Department of Biology but also to help take care of the earth. He said Ginny believed we as humans have a mandate to take care of Earth and are responsible for living sustainably. 

After considering several suggestions, it always came back to the greenhouse as the right choice to provide the most impact. 

The greenhouse is an investment in students to enrich their education by having hands-on, faculty-mentored experiential learning opportunities. They will literally get their hands dirty while problem solving the complex interactions needed to support life. 

“This commitment to defining and solving problems holistically is at the heart of who we are as a Catholic and Marianist Institution because we understand the interconnectedness of ourselves to the world,” said Danielle Poe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

It’s not just students who will benefit. The greenhouse joins the gardens as a place ripe for faculty mentorship as well as being an asset for faculty to use when applying for grants and research funding. 

“We aspire to think about what comes next? What will we grow? We want to grow student inspiration, paths to student careers and students’ hearts,” added Ryan McEwan, professor of environmental biology.

As Rick Borth and his family got the chance to walk through the new greenhouse, a structure that has come to represent not only Ginny’s spirit, but her traits of persistence and passion to succeed, he offered this simple advice to those who will benefit from this unique learning mechanism. Bee kind, bee happy and bee sustainable.

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