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Class of 2012 Gives Solar Greenhouse to UM

University of Montana students soon will enjoy produce grown in their own backyard year-round thanks to the Class of 2012. This past spring’s graduates partnered with the UM Foundation to donate a new greenhouse that will be located at the University Dining Services Garden between the Lommasson Center and Craig Hall.

Construction of the greenhouse took place during October, with a community build day Oct. 18, when volunteers will help put up the main walls of the structure. 

Each year, the UM Foundation works with graduating students on the Senior Class Gift Campaign to encourage donations for a gift from the class to the University. The Class of 2012 chose to partner with UM’s Farm to College program to purchase a solar greenhouse constructed by a local company, Bad Goat Forest Products. The solar greenhouse, which will be constructed from repurposed beetle-kill lumber, was chosen because its unique design allows growing year-round.   

“I joined the Senior Class Gift Campaign as a way to give back to The University of Montana,” said Becca Millsap, 2012 Senior Class Gift Campaign chair. “The University will always be a place I call home and I wanted to do my part to continue to make it great.”

A group of seven seniors served on the steering committee for the 2012 Senior Class Gift Campaign. They polled fellow seniors and deliberated on the best possible campus gift, and came up with a solar greenhouse. With the assistance of UM Foundation staff, they received gifts from 160 classmates and raised $3,500. They asked fellow seniors to make a gift of $20.12 to commemorate their class year. The committee unanimously decided to reach out to UM’s Farm to College Program to ask them for a “match.”

“We are thrilled the greenhouse won the seniors’ vote,” said Ian Finch, Farm to College Coordinator at University Dining Services. “The impact of a campus greenhouse pairs nicely with the Garden Project in a holistic sense, as it relates to growing sustainable food on campus.”

The Farm to College program matched the dollar amount the seniors raised in order to purchase a solar greenhouse for the UM community. Food grown in the greenhouse will be eaten in the Food Zoo and other University Dining Services facilities.

“We are focused on building a culture of philanthropy here at UM, and this campaign provides a visual for all UM students,” said Tara Udall, associate director of annual giving - internal programs at the UM Foundation. “Graduating seniors continue to give back to UM through great senior class gifts, like a campus map on Mount Sentinel, trees on the Oval and a new bike rack outside The Payne Family Native American Center.”

The 2013 Senior Class Gift Campaign Committee is organizing now. The goal is to raise more than $4,000 for a gift to UM. To volunteer or give, call Tara Udall at 406-243-2575 or email tara.udall@mso.umt.edu. Learn more about the Senior Challenge at http://supportum.org/guidetogiving/annualgifts/Seniorchallenge/

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