Posted: August 15, 2022

To honor her mother’s legacy, Tina Terrell made a gift to create the Lucille Terrell MANRRS Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences, designate a scarlet oak in The Arboretum at Penn State as “Lucille’s Tree” and name one of the Arboretum’s future Fountain Garden seat walls in her honor.

Penn State alumna Tina Terrell has known since she was just a toddler that Penn State was the place for her. Her late mother, Lucille Terrell, was a lifelong fan of the Nittany Lions and instilled in Terrell a love for education, nature and service. To honor her mother’s legacy, Terrell made a gift to create the Lucille Terrell MANRRS Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences, designate a scarlet oak in The Arboretum at Penn State as “Lucille’s Tree” and name one of the Arboretum’s future Fountain Garden seat walls in her honor.

The scholarship will benefit undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences who participate in MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences), of which Terrell was a founding member, with preference given to students with demonstrated financial need.

“Tina is a wonderful role model for all students in the College of Agricultural Sciences,” said Patreese Ingram, assistant dean for multicultural affairs. “She is an especially important inspiration for students in  MANRRS who are pioneering in many of our agricultural majors. These are students who have the academic ability and desire to succeed in areas of study with fewer role models than other students in the college. We are truly grateful for the generous support being provided through this scholarship, which will help relieve some of the financial burden that rests on too many of our students’ shoulders, allowing them to achieve their degree goals.”

The Fountain Garden seat wall will be part of the planned Fountain Garden Terrace, which will serve as a grand pedestrian entrance and main portal to the Arboretum for visitors. The new section will include a series of nested oval terraces guiding visitors up from the marsh meadow along Park Avenue toward the fountain into the botanic gardens, and it will include two pocket gardens where guests will find seating and places to gather.

“Tina’s gifts of a memorial tree, naming one of the Arboretum’s future Fountain Garden seat walls and the establishment of the college’s first scholarship specifically for MANRRS students — all in honor of her mother, Lucille — are so inspiring,” said Sanford Smith, interim director of The Arboretum at Penn State. “While Tina is deserving of honor and recognition in her own right, she has chosen to create three special tributes to honor her mom. Tina’s mother gave her both the blessing and encouragement to pursue her dream to become a forester, and little did she know that her daughter would do the same for many others coming behind her.”

Terrell, a 1986 graduate of the College of Agricultural Sciences with a degree in forest science, grew up in Philadelphia. After her mother passed away in 2020 at 82, Terrell discovered Lucille had kept her own high school diploma all those years. While initially surprised, it became clear to Terrell how important education was to her mother, and that inspired her to create a scholarship in Lucille’s name.

It was also important to Terrell that she have a connection to her alma mater and provide an avenue for other students, particularly those with financial need and those involved in MANRRS, to obtain an education and discover the bountiful opportunities in the College of Ag Sciences.

“This is my way of serving my mother and her legacy, as well as all of the young people who don’t think about, know about or have heard about agriculture and nature and how they can get involved,” said Terrell. “I want to help them be successful and be the citizen steward of tomorrow.”

Terrell’s college degree and her longtime career in forestry are also linked to her mother. From a young age, Lucille fostered a love of nature in Terrell.

“My mother, my aunt, my sisters and my cousins would spend every Friday in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia,” said Terrell. “My mother and aunt would have to pull me out of the park at the end of the day. When you grow up around asphalt and concrete, you start yearning for something more. I got — and still get — rejuvenated and invigorated being around nature.”

While she was originally going to major in electrical engineering at Penn State, Terrell switched into the College of Agricultural Sciences during her first year and was connected to the Forest Service through a graduate student and family friend.

“In that first position with the Forest Service working in the woods, my colleagues took me to count trees every day. I decided then and there that I was going to become a forester. When I talked to my mother that evening after being in the forest, her first words to me were, ‘If you want to be a forester, you can be a forester.’ After that, I stopped listening to people who told me that because I was African American, urban and female that I couldn’t be a forester.”

It’s been 38 years since Terrell began working with the Forest Service at 19, and since then her career has taken her all over the country, from Alaskan glaciers to the Grand Canyon to managing the biggest trees in the world, giant sequoias and redwoods, and everywhere in between. Today, she is the associate deputy chief of the Forest Service. She credits her mother’s guidance and support for her success and hopes that by opening doors for others, she can help more people from similar backgrounds find a home, connectedness to nature and a life grounded in service.

“I want to increase diversity in this field and open doors for others because that is where our success lies,” she said. “I hope the students who receive this scholarship take this personal gift and use it to be successful and in turn give back. Whether it’s giving back by the work they do, the money they make or the joy they give, they, too, can inspire others.”

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. Through teaching, research, and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit Information about the campaign is available at

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