Finals Week At CSC; Lucinda Mays Winter Graduation Speaker

This is finals week at Chadron State College, culminating in Winter Commencement ceremonies Friday afternoon at 2:00 in the Chicoine Center. The ceremonies will include both graduate and undergraduate degrees, and will be available on CSC Live.

The graduation speaker is Chadron State public horticulturist Lucinda Mays. A native of Kearney, she came to CSC in 1998 when her husband Roger was named Director of Theater. 

Mays earned a master’s degree from the college in 2005 and was hired by the school the following year as horticulturist. 

Before moving to Chadron, Mays was a designer and curator for Callaway Gardens in Georgia, and for nine years hosted segments for the PBS television show, The Victory Garden. For many years, she lectured nationally and contributed articles to Southern Living magazine.

Since Mays joined CSC during the tumultuous time of the Spotted Tail Wildfire of 2006, she’s worked intentionally to influence the campus landscape.

“My intention has been to develop a landscape that invites students and staff to enjoy their time on campus, provides quiet, shady spots to relax at between classes, and serves as an inspirational teaching collection,” Mays said.

In recognition of her work to improve the beauty and functionality of the campus green space, Mays received the Jim Kluck Honor Award in 2016. The award is intended to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum or its affiliates. 

Her efforts throughout the CSC Arboretum include the establishment of native and pioneer plants near the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, the bioretention plantings near the Coffee Agriculture Pavilion, and a pollinator-friendly living fence near the Eagle Ridge student housing complex.

Among her other awards is the 2010 Nebraska State Forest Service’s Educator/School Award. She earned it for leading more than 500 volunteers in a post-fire replanting of 12,000 conservation trees on C-Hill. The same year, CSC’s Arboretum received the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Affiliate Site Award in recognition of public gardens demonstrating excellence in collection development, maintenance practice, and community engagement.

In 2021, Mays received the Conservation Award for Natural Resources Education from the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resource District for her community outreach including organizing the CSC Campus Arboretum Volunteers and leading the annual greenery swag day where prunings from campus evergreens are used to make winter decor for the college. 

Throughout the years, she also organized tree care workshops featuring presenters from various organizations to educate the public about pruning techniques and soil supplements.

A native Nebraskan, Mays graduated from Kearney High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from University of Nebraska at Kearney in 1979 and a Master of Arts in Education degree from Chadron State College in 2005.

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