Arboretum affected by state budget cuts

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

Due to state budget cuts to public universities, Picayune’s Crosby Arboretum will experience some changes in the next fiscal year.

The Arboretum became part of the Mississippi State University Extension Service in 1997 and celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.

However, MSU’s budget was decreased by 1.79 percent this year, Arboretum Director and MSU Assistant Extension professor Pat Drackett said.

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The facility has “sustained substantial budget reductions” and will have to rely on other funding sources to continue programs, Drackett said.

Though Drackett said she and the Arboretum’s Foundation Board are not certain what will change, she said she expects some programs to be reorganized.

“Change in a lot of ways is good; we evaluate how we can best save money and labor,” Drackett said.

She advised the public not to be alarmed by the budget cuts and said she if confident the arboretum will continue to provide services in Pearl River County.

Drackett said she will meet with MSU and the Board over the next week to discuss these changes.

However, she said they’ve already been asked to look at events and decide how to conduct them with a lower demand on staff and other resources.

As of now, Drackett said the plan is to combine the smaller annual plant sales into just two events in order to provide larger selections for customers, and make better use of arboretum resources.

In another effort to make those events more popular, Drackett said she asks participants to let the staff know if they are in search of a particular plant for purchase.

But the Arboretum will be revamping all of its events and programs, she said. Some of their two-days programs might be consolidated into one day.

Drackett was optimistic about the changes, saying they would force the facility to focus in on its best attributes to continue serving the public.

The proposed construction of an education building and visitor center will probably not take priority in the next year, Drackett said.

But, she said she is hoping for improved revenue streams next year once these changes and more are implemented during the next several months.

About Julia Arenstam

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