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Mission and History


Our mission is to preserve and enhance diverse horticultural collections and natural areas for the enrichment and education of academic and public audiences, and in support of scientific research.

View our 2012 annual report video below:



How Cornell Plantations Came to Be

From Cornell University's beginning, there was a resolve to amplify and even expand upon the campus' rich natural treasures. At the university's opening ceremony in 1868, the eminent naturalist Louis Agassiz remarked that no other area could compete with Cornell's surroundings in the opportunities offered for the study of natural history. Cornell Plantations traces its roots to 1875, when Sage College was constructed to house women at Cornell, and an arboretum of rare specimen trees and a conservatory for teaching botany were integral parts of the early campus plan.

Cornell alumni from Brooklyn, New York, pressed for gorge preservation as early as 1909, while visionaries Robert H. Treman, Colonel Hery w. Sackett, Floyd R. Newman, Muriel B. Mundy, Richard M. Lewis, Audrey O'Connor, and others provided inspiration, guidance, and funding. Support, leadership and creativity came too, from committed faculty members such as A.N. Prentiss, Cornell's first botany professor; W.W. Rowlee, who served as both professor of botany and the university's grounds supervisor; and Liberty Hyde Bailey, professor of horticulture, director of the College of Agriculture and creator of the name "Plantations." All of these dedicated people and countless more helped lay the foundation for Cornell Plantations' current holdings of over 4,000 acres of natural and constructed landscape, and natural history collections.

Learn more about Plantations history from a video of the tour "A Place Where Things May Grow" led by summer intern Meredith Kueny.

View video here