Posted: August 19, 2021

The Halls have pledged a gift of $75,000 to name the future Fountain Garden Terrace

For longtime State College residents and Penn State alumni Dennis and Sandra Parker Hall, The Arboretum at Penn State holds a special place in their hearts due, in part, to all it offers not only to them as locals and volunteers, but also to the surrounding community and visitors from near and far. With that firmly in mind, the couple pledged a gift of $75,000 to name the future Fountain Garden Terrace.

The Fountain Garden Terrace will be part of the planned Fountain Garden, 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 and then into the botanic gardens. The area will also include two pocket gardens where guests will find seating and places to gather. The funds from the Halls’ gift will assist with the construction of the Fountain Garden Terrace.

“The Halls have invested generously in the educational elements of the Arboretum for many years,” said Sanford Smith, interim director of the Arboretum. “Now their philanthropy is aimed at creating a spectacular and inviting entrance into the places where their prior gifts and volunteer contributions impact and inspire thousands of visitors each year. How cool a connection is that!”

For the Halls, who have volunteered at the Arboretum since 2014 as garden guides and “on your hands and knees” volunteers helping to plant several areas, the inspiration for this most recent gift comes from their personal experiences and the opportunities they have enjoyed dating back to their graduate school years at Penn State, where Dennis and Sandra earned master’s degrees in education in 1985 and 1987, respectively.

“From the time we moved here in 1977, we have had the opportunity to be a part of the Penn State community and to participate in many free events and experiences together and with our children,” said Sandra. “We have appreciated the Arboretum, have enjoyed its development and want to see it continue to grow moving forward. We’re happy we’re able to be part of that growth.”

Dennis noted that the Arboretum has allowed the Halls to discover new possibilities for themselves. “I know more about bees and pollinators than I ever thought I would,” he said. “It’s also introduced us to people from so many places. It’s a delight when we’re out and about and we get recognized by someone we met at the Arboretum through our volunteering.”

The Halls, who are members of the College of Agricultural Sciences Volunteer Development Council, previously endowed a fund in 2014, the Sandra L. Parker and Dennis K. Hall Educational Program Support to the Children’s Garden, which has helped create engaging experiences and memories for children and adults alike. In addition, the couple contributed to the development of the Children’s Garden through support for the In and Out Creek and the “Parker” the caterpillar bench.

It should come as no surprise that The Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden is one of their favorite places at the Arboretum. Beyond the Arboretum, in 2020 the Halls endowed the Sandra Parker Hall and Dennis K. Hall Educational Equity Scholarship through the now-concluded Educational Equity Matching Program.

Being able to support the Arboretum and Penn State through their philanthropy means a lot to the Halls, and they understand well the impact it can have.

“In many cases, without philanthropy, these places and programs may not exist. Funding sources are often tenuous, and endowments, gifts and scholarships make a difference,” Dennis said.

“We also want to pay it forward,” added Sandra. “We look back to where we had some help and were able to use facilities and had excellent opportunities, and now we’re in a position to offer support of our own.”

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