Arboretum Executive DirectorSioux Falls, South Dakota
New Arboretum Creates Educational Opportunities
The quarry-based community of East Sioux Falls has all but vanished from the bluffs above the Big Sioux River, but the site now houses a 115-acre arboretum. The namesake of the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum had a dream to create a haven for trees, wetlands, gardens and native plants, as well as a site to interpret the earlier culture's interaction with the environment.
With funding from private sources and the South Dakota Division of Conservation & Forestry, 400 trees were planted. The Sioux Falls city forester assisted in providing care for both new and mature trees in the arboretum. "We're offering tree and nature educational opportunities that children can't otherwise get in town," says Lori Kiesow, the arboretum's part-time employee.
Even in its infancy, the facility is attracting families, elementary school children and classes from the local technical college and South Dakota State University.
Were it not for the support of state and local forestry professionals, Sioux Falls residents would have missed out on this important resource. "We've seen a wonderful increase in people that come to check on our progress," says Lori. "The trees we've planted will mature, not in our lifetimes, but in the lifetimes of those for whom we began this project – the children."