Alexandra Sotkovsky, Marketing Associate
Education has always been a focus of the Dawes family. In 1929, our founders Beman and Bertie Dawes enacted the Deed of Trust declaring The Arboretum as a place “…to give pleasure to the public and education to the youth.”
The earliest center of education on Arboretum grounds was the Brumback schoolhouse, a simple white building in the north end of The Arboretum. In 1836, Licking County pioneer John Brumback gave land for the construction of a school to benefit children of the area. The original schoolhouse was likely built of log construction around 1840 and was later replaced with the wood frame structure we see today. The school had served three generations of Licking Township students when it closed after the 1919 – 1920 school year. In 1925, the schoolhouse was converted to employee housing and today serves as a guest house.
The Dawes Arboretum has been a community resource for education since its founding. Boy and Girl Scout troops began coming to The Arboretum for outdoor activities in 1930 and have continued to do so since then. In 1943, The Dawes Arboretum began chartering local Boy Scout Troop 33. Lakewood Schools’ 5th grade students have participated in on site programs as an expansion to their education since 1966. A special highlight on the main grounds are tree dedications honoring Licking Township students in 1932 and former Brumback students in 1981.
Our co-founder Beman Dawes, who was founding president of The Pure Oil Company, had a vested interest in science education. In the 1950s, The Pure Oil Company hosted students from local high schools to participate in a ‘Scientist for a Day’ program at its refinery. Steve Williams was a high school freshman when he attended the program in 1958. As he recalls, he was one of two students chosen to attend from his General Science class in Johnstown. “The science they explained was fascinating to me … they had posters with rock formations to show where they drilled for oil and gas and they passed around several samples of rocks … it was amazing how they started with a brown “gunk,” broke it down and separated the result into a number of useful products” Williams said. After his schooling, he went on to develop products for Owens Corning for twenty five years and was the Director of Research and Development at a smaller company for another 18. The ‘Scientist for a Day’ program remains a distinct memory for Williams. “That day I saw industrial science in a different light. The Pure Oil experience definitely nudged me toward the science path,” he said.
Today, The Dawes Arboretum offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults. Parents bring preschoolers to The Arboretum to foster a love and curiosity for the natural world, while adults come to learn practical skills such as grafting or landscape management. There is a program for nearly every age or interest. For upcoming program information visit our Calendar.