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New grant will help COC Gardens of the Canyons project grow

Posted: December 10, 2010 11:00 a.m.
Updated: December 10, 2010 11:00 a.m.

College of the Canyons has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, seed money that will allow the college to grow and develop its Gardens of the Canyons project located on the COC Valencia campus.

On Monday, Dec. 6, Michael Wilding, COC Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Student Services, and Jill Mellady, chair, COC Foundation, accepted a $5,000 check from Jim Bizzelle, Vice President of Community Development for Pardee Homes, a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser, during an informal presentation ceremony in the college's Circle Garden.

"Weyerhaeuser and Pardee Homes support programs that help cultivate growing minds and bodies, promote sustainable communities and nurture quality of life in the communities where we do business," Bizzelle said. "The Gardens of the Canyons embodies all three of these ideals. We hope our contribution will inspire others to help make the Gardens project a treasure the entire Santa Clarita Valley can enjoy."

Envisioned as a place where students, staff and community members will come for inspiration, education and enjoyment, the Gardens of the Canyons project is a collection of 15 gardens and nature areas that will eventually be connected with signs, maps and trail markers to form an hour-long nature walk through campus.

The concept for this project stems from a recent on-campus professional development program, which asked college staff members to address particular areas of need at the college by working together to develop innovative solutions.

The Gardens of the Canyons project will enhance the quality of life on campus and support the college's many educational programs, while establishing the college's gardens as a destination to visit in the Santa Clarita Valley.

"On behalf of College of the Canyons, I want to thank Weyerhaeuser and Pardee Homes for this generous contribution," said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. "The goal of this program is to demonstrate the rich variety of gardening possibilities that can thrive in Santa Clarita and share the natural beauty of the campus with college staff and the entire community. Gardens of the Canyons will create a wonderful environment for learning and be a resource that can be enjoyed by everyone."

The first phase of the project will include the continued development of the 15-stop nature walk, which begins at the Circle Garden, near the college's main entrance, and encompasses much of the approximately 153-acre Valencia campus.

Subsequent plans call for the enhanced development of two garden areas to be used for outdoor classes and special events, and the eventual expansion of the Gardens of the Canyons project to the college's Canyon Country Campus.

In addition to the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation grant, the gardens projects will be sustained through the COC Foundation's Friends of the Gardens (FrOG) volunteer support group.

Led by COC Foundation board member Diane Benjamin, the group is composed of people dedicated to establishing and maintaining Gardens of the Canyons as a recognized asset, and landmark, of both the college and the Santa Clarita Valley,

About Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation
The mission of the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, established in 1948, is to nourish the quality of life in Weyerhaeuser's communities, and foster understanding that sustainable forests meet important human needs. For more than 60 years, the Foundation has directed more than $208 million to the communities where Weyerhaeuser employees work, live and play. To learn more about the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, visit

About Pardee Homes
Established in 1921, Pardee Homes is one of the nation's most prominent multi-regional builders. Noted for lifestyle designs that also feature energy efficiency, advanced technologies and other sustainable concepts, Pardee Homes is active in California's San Diego, Inland Empire and Los Angeles/Ventura regional markets, and in Las Vegas. The company emphasizes master-planned communities that include schools, parks and preserved open space, and has earned wide recognition for quality construction, customer service, green and sustainable building practices and dedication to the educational and civic goals of the communities in which it builds. See

For more information about the Gardens of the Canyons project or the COC Foundation's Friends of the Gardens (FrOG) volunteer support group, contact Murray Wood at (661) 362-3433.




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