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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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William D. Radichel Foundation gives $100,000 to improve herbarium collection

Plant specimens

Minnesota State Mankato's herbarium, a resource for managing Minnesota's natural environment, was significantly strengthened recently thanks to a gift from the William D. Radichel Foundation.

2011-09-19

Biological Sciences faculty member and herbarium director Alison Mahoney shows some of the hundreds of dried, pressed plant specimens in Minnesota State Mankato's herbarium collection.
Biological Sciences faculty member and herbarium director Alison Mahoney (front) shows some of the hundreds of dried, pressed plant specimens in Minnesota State Mankato's herbarium collection to Brad Radichel. The William D. Radichel Foundation has donated $100,000 to an endowment fund to improve and maintain the herbarium.

A Minnesota State University, Mankato resource for managing Minnesota's natural environment was significantly strengthened recently thanks to a gift from the William D. Radichel Foundation of Mankato.

The foundation has donated $100,000 to the University to expand and care for its collection of Minnesota plant specimens.

The specimens, housed in a herbarium at the University, provide an important record showing the historic and current distributions of Minnesota plants. The information helps scientists, naturalists and land managers to assess the health of the state's ecosystem, encourage growth of native flora, and control growth of invasive weeds.

The Darlene and William Radichel Herbarium Endowment will provide funds in perpetuity to hire a student assistant to mount, maintain and catalogue plant specimens; to develop a herbarium website; to increase the size of the collection; and to pay for a summer student internship.

Alison Mahoney, botanist and associate professor in the University's Department of Biological Sciences, began overseeing the herbarium in 1999.

"Our herbarium has been underutilized and undervalued," Mahoney said. "During the last seven years, student projects have increased our holdings by about 1,000 specimens. Many remain uncataloged, unmounted and unfilled, and therefore unusable. The Darlene and William Radichel Herbarium Endowment will allow us to attack this backlog of curatorial work, and to increase our holdings even more through the summer internship."

The herbarium "should have a website where students and researchers can access specimen data on-line, and to educate the public about local native plants," she added. "The endowment will help us develop the website, and will let us stock the collection with at least one specimen from each of Minnesota's 2,000 native or naturalized plant species."

That, Mahoney says, will make Minnesota State Mankato's collection a more valuable resource for the school's students, and for scientists from the Upper Midwest.

"I'm grateful for this generous gift from the William Radichel Foundation," she said. "It will benefit Minnesota scientists, students and the public for decades to come."

"My mother always had a passion for horticulture, and especially loved growing flowers which she would cut and place in vases around the house to beautify our home," said Brad Radichel, son of Darlene and William Radichel and a director of the foundation.

"She had taken a home horticulture class from Prof. Don Gordon, the former head of the herbarium prior to Prof. Mahoney in the 1980s. They became good friends, as both enjoyed travel, tours to the U of M Arboretum and other botanical outings. Don helped Mom develop a landscaping plan for our Madison Lake home, of which we continue to reap the benefits today.

"It was fitting to give back to a program from which Mom benefited - an endowment which she would bless wholeheartedly were she here today."

A dedication of the endowment and the herbarium will be held Sept. 29.

The William D. Radichel Foundation was set up by Darlene and William Radichel to support the charitable efforts of their children, to facilitate and spread the joy of giving within future generations, and to give back to the community which had given so much to them. The Foundation seeks to support worthwhile causes in the Mankato area, as well as charitable interests in the communities where their children live.

William Radichel and his brother Paul were owners and chief executives of Condux Corporation, a diversified Mankato concrete pipe and building materials company founded in 1888 by their grandfather, D.W. Radichel. They built the business from a four-plant operation to a 19-company conglomerate that includes North Star Concrete Company, Condux International and Venstar of Mankato.

Darlene Radichel was active in Mankato community events and organizations. She was a volunteer at Immanuel St. Joseph's Hospital, served as a deacon at her church, and was president of the Mankato Figure Skating Club. She also served as campaign manager for three former state legislators.

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