Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse showcased Saturday

World Renown orchid collection at Ball State University has new greenhouse

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Orchids grow on high stone mountain tops or low tropical rain forests.

The biggest collegiate collection of orchids at Ball State University has a new home thanks to the philanthropy of Joe and Alice Rinard.

The money from the Rinards and other donors built a new $1.3 million greenhouse next to Christy Woods and the Marilyn Glick Glass Museum.

More than 100 people, including Rinard and his family, besides BSU President Jo Ann Gora, attended a gathering to open the new greenhouse to the university and public.

Rinard talked about his late wife, Alice, and her connection to the orchid collection. Alice Rinard was secretary to the later Robert Cooper who chaired the university science department and had the science building named in his honor.

Her love of flowers and traveling to the famous gardens of Europe gave reason for the support to build a new greenhouse.

The Wheeler Thanhouser Orchid Collection and Species Bank is world renowed and has almost 1,800 plants. Many were out the season Saturday but those with flowers were exoitic and brillant colors.

Gora recalled researching the orchid collection when she was a candidate for president a decade ago. Her appearance dedicating a new Ball State property will be her last as Gora retires this summer. The university recent hired Paul Ferguson, president of the University of Maine, as president.

 Besides the unique collection, Gora talked about the greenhouse adding to the art and culture community at the university with the Marilyn Glick Glass Musuem and David Owlsey Musuem of Art.

 The Christy Woods has both that hardwood forest and prairie grassland look that is the landscape of the Midwest.

 Lots of cheers went to Cheryl Leblac, longtime curator of the orchid collection, and a woman who seeks flowers, plants and other botany for educational and other use.

Leblac was talking with donors about the new design and high tech cooling system. A greenhouse and a display room are included in the building including a cold house.

Ball State also worked with local orchid collecting and growing groups besides Red Tail Conservancy to open the new home for the collection.




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