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Native Plant Garden Honors Chemistry Professor Emeritus

Apr 28, 2015

Moores native plant gardenRandolph-Macon College dedicated a garden in honor of Chemistry Professor Emeritus Brian Moores on April 26, 2015. The Brian Wesley Moores Native Plant Garden, located at the corner of Smith and Henry Streets, is the culmination of a project begun several years ago.

Under sunny skies, President Robert R. Lindgren welcomed guests and thanked Moores for his many contributions to students, the college and the community. David Hindman '72, senior pastor at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, gave the invocation.

Sociology Professor Reber Dunkel recognized the many people whose contributions helped make the garden possible. Several members of the Ashland Town Council were present, including Mayor George Spagna, Vice Mayor Ned Henson, and Faye Prichard. Dunkel also acknowledged Bill Blevins, co-founder and CEO of Plants Map, and Tracy Blevins, CCO of Plants Map, a company that offers a mobile web site that encourages "social gardening." Users can add their gardens to a virtual map, exchange growing tips and discover new plants and gardening trends. The Brian Wesley Moores Native Plant Garden is now included on the Plants Map web site. Plant tags in the garden include QR codes, which can be scanned with a smartphone, revealing information about each plant, as well background information about the garden.

Biology Professor Chas. Gowan, the Paul H. Wornom, M.D. Chair in Biological Sciences, spoke about how much Moores means to him, and Environmental Studies Professor Michael Fenster, the Stephen H. Watts Professor of Science and director of the Environmental Studies program, offered a musical tribute to his predecessor.

"When I arrived at Randolph-Macon, I would bring my guitar and sing goofy folk songs adapted to faculty at parties hosted by Brian," Fenster told the crowd.  "To 'bookend' that tradition, I have adapted the lyrics of 'And the Green Grass Grows All Around,' a song published in 1912, for a sing-along." The audience, Moores included, enthusiastically accompanied Fenster and his guitar.

Surrounded by his wife, Connie, and his children and grandchildren, Moores thanked the crowd and spoke about his passion for the college. He also talked about his wonderful experiences with R-MC students throughout the years, his relationships with colleagues, and his connections to the Randolph-Macon community.

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a new sign in Moores' honor. The sign was made possible by a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation.

About the Garden
In 2010, students enrolled in courses taught by Moores and  Dunkel undertook the project of designing a native plant landscape plan for a vacant lot on campus that Randolph-Macon College designated as a "green" area. Following workshops conducted by Dr. Lou Verner, a terrestrial biologist from the Bureau of Wildlife Resources for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, students designed landscape plans, selecting plants native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed based on seasonality, color scheme, height, clumping patterns and biodiversity values. Students planted Virginia native trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and grasses, including wild bergamot, spiked blazing star, black-eyed Susan and switchgrass—and five years later, the garden is flourishing. R-MC students help year-round with weeding, planting, and mulching the area.

"The garden is a fitting way to honor Brian, whose dedication to the stewardship of our Earth led to creation of the Environmental Studies program at Randolph-Macon in 1991," says Gowan. "He was, and continues to be, a great inspiration for the program. It is wonderful that the college designated this permanent open-space, filled with native plants, in his honor."

The garden is part of the college's environmental sustainability initiative, and native plants are advantageous in many ways. They are lower maintenance; provide natural habitat for indigenous wildlife; and they are visually appealing. This project had several phases, and it grew—literally and figuratively—with the help of many volunteers and donors. The garden is brimming with plants—there are more than 70—native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The plants provide a food supply for indigenous wildlife and contribute to improving the quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed area.

Brian Moores
Moores, who joined the faculty at R-MC in 1980, earned his B.S. from Bates College and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at University of California/Riverside (1968-1970) and took sabbatical leaves at University of Virginia (1986-1987) and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (2003). Moores' teaching/research interests include physical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and food chemistry.

Very active in his retirement, Moores serves as secretary, board of directors of Shalom Farms, an urban ministry of the Richmond District of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church; treasurer, board of directors of Caretakers of God’s Creation, a ministry of the Virginia Conference calling people of faith to environmental sustainability; a member of the Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale and the Chancel Choir at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church; and he was "one of the oldest cast members" in the 2015 Ashland Musical Variety Show. In addition, Moores enjoys cooking for family and friends.