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York College of PA celebrates opening of Appell Horticulture Center, legacy of Appell giving, with ribbon-cutting ceremony

October 25, 2023
Horticulture Ribbon Cutting.

York College of Pennsylvania celebrated the opening of its Appell Horticulture Center and the legacy of support from the Appell family at an Oct. 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Funded with a multimillion-dollar commitment from the Powder Mill Foundation, the Appell Horticulture Center was built to accommodate the growing Environmental Horticulture program, which was first available to students beginning in Fall 2021. With a focus on environmental sustainability, the Appell Environmental Horticulture program also offers hands-on learning opportunities at Millbourne, Appell’s 50-acre private estate in York.

Mrs. Jody Appell, the 99-year-old widow of philanthropist and local businessman Louis Appell Jr., attended the event. Michael Hady, CEO of the Powder Mill Foundation created by Mr. Appell, spoke of his vision for York College and its students.

“He envisioned so much more for generations to come,” Hady said. “He wanted to support the education of students here at York College who could study here on the campus and then be immersed in his garden­–Millbourne­–to learn and experience the real, live learning lab that he created there over 30 years ago.

“He tasked the Powder Mill Board with working with York College to create a major in horticulture that would give the College a unique niche to attract students to York,” he continued. “A major that would stand on its own . . . not just a minor as part of another scientific major, but truly a model for students from around the country to learn and grow.”

The first cohort of students who enrolled in the major were in attendance, and junior Hannah Zinn of White Hall, Md., addressed the audience. “The horticulture program at York offered exactly what I was looking for with engaged and passionate faculty, great opportunities, and fantastic connections to be made,” she said. “It’s been a great experience thus far, but I’m beyond excited for what this new building has to offer.”

Zinn elaborated on the features of the Center. “The Appell Horticulture Center has spaces for hands-on learning, studying, student research, and more,” she said. “It’s an environment that will allow us not only to grow as students but also as individuals as we learn more about our passions and what drives us. I know that I’m particularly excited for our new study areas, but also for other specific spaces such as the student research labs and the herbarium. As someone who has been able to conduct research throughout my college career thus far and who hopes to continue doing so in the future, this is really exciting.”

Zinn and other Environmental Horticulture majors have a breadth of opportunities in front of them, according to Dr. Charles MacVean, dean of the Kinsley School of Engineering, Sciences and Technology. “A bachelor’s degree in horticulture can lead to management and supervisory roles in landscape maintenance, greenhouse operations, plant nurseries, and more,” he said. “Some graduates may use their knowledge of plant science to pursue careers in plant genetics and breeding, while others focus on landscape design and restoration.

“Environmental horticulture graduates can also go into entrepreneurship, starting a landscaping business, or offering consulting services to institutions looking to revamp their outdoor spaces to mitigate environmental impact. A degree in horticulture can also be the first step to earning graduate-level credentials in pursuit of an academic or research career.” 

“For many who walk on our campus, they will see a building,” said York College President Thomas Burns. “What we see is something much more. We see the beginnings of something special: a new program, a new commitment to the environment, a pathway to success for current and future Spartan students. What we see is a promise made real, a legacy made tangible.”

"The future is bright for these lucky students for whom Louis cared so deeply,” Hady said. “Powder Mill Foundation is proud as well that we can continue to carry Louis’ legacy forward with the dedication of this beautiful space today.”