One of the more blooming and colorful events this week leading up to Veteran’s Day tomorrow was the dedication of the Veterans Garden on the Canyon Country campus of College of the Canyons.
A small crowd gathered Thursday, braving cold winds, along a hillside to commemorate the sacrifice of many and the future of many more students.
Veterans Rene Munoz, who serves in the US Army California National Guard, and Marlene Nolasco of the US Navy spoke to those gathered. Munoz, who is majoring in political science, is also the president of the Veteran’s Club on campus.
“Usually I’m the first person they come and see,” Munoz said, referring to new veteran students. “Coming back and picking up where you left off is never easy, so when a student comes in and there’s another veteran who kind of walked through their shoes before, and kind of guide him, that’s when you can make a veteran feel like he’s back home.
“Bringing our veterans back into society, they have sacrificed so much, just as a thank you, it’s really important to be able to extend our hands and be able to help them out,” he continued. “We were once in their position trying to get back into school, trying to come back. You pause your life for four years or however long your enlistment is, and having to come back and just saying thank you, I think it’s really important.”
Dena Maloney, Vice President of Economic Development and of the Canyon Country Campus, said that the veteran’s garden is something they’ve been considering since they opened the campus.
“When we moved in and started actually operating the campus, we noticed there were places along the campus that would make nice either demonstration areas or garden areas for the public,” she said.
The first garden was placed at the Early Childhood Education Center and the second, a research garden, was developed this semester for the Environmental Science Department.
“We’re so much more aware of the number of veterans returning to school following their service and we wanted to do something to honor them,” Maloney said. “We created this are with red, white and blue flowers and a nice plaque that dedicates the area to them.”
The garden was funded through the Canyon Country Campus Innovation Fund, which benefits from bench naming opportunities, as well as grant money from Weyerhauser for campus beautification.
A group of us went over to the gardens at Castaic Water Agency and spotted some red blooming plants, then some white blooming plants and then we saw a purply thing, so we thought we could put all of them together and make something to honor our veterans,” she said. “We really feel pride in what service has been given to our country and now students are here pursuing their educational goals.”
Flowers in the garden include Red Salvia, which is also known as Scarlet Sage; Victoria White Salvia, also known as Mealy-Cup Sage because of its fuzzy stems and Blue Veronicas, which is also known as speedwell. The plants are known to attract birds and butterflies and should grow to approximately one or two feet in height.
The Veterans Center at College of the Canyons serves a combined campus population of about 400 students each semester. Some of the services provided include priority registration, career technical education and community networking.
A scholarship specifically for veterans has been established, called the SCV Warrior Scholarship that provides financial resources for transitioning veterans who are working toward completing a program at COC. Eligibility criteria for the $500 scholarship includes: student must be a currently serving or honorably discharged veteran who maintains a 2.0 GPA and has completed at least six units.