During his 32-year career in N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Horticultural Science, taught more than 20,000 students. He led many of them on national field trips and competitions, as well as on international excursions, where he introduced students to world horticulture practices. Creating a fund to support travel opportunities for horticulture students seemed a natural choice for Lane and his wife, Susanna, for his parting gift to the Department of Horticultural Science when he retired in late 2013.
On March 18 the Lanes made the gift official as they signed an agreement and presented a check to create the Bryce H. and Susanna M. Lane Horticultural Science Student Travel Endowment. “This endowment will provide an opportunity for the department to decide where the need is to enable students to travel,” Lane said at the signing ceremony and reception, held at the York Auditorium, JC Raulston Arboretum.
Lane grew up in western Massachusetts, where he discovered his passion for plants and telling others about them, working at a garden center through high school and college. After earning his bachelor’s degree in plant science from the University of Massachusetts in 1979 and master’s in horticulture from The Ohio State University in 1981, he came to the Department of Horticultural Science at N.C. State as a lecturer. He became the undergraduate coordinator for the department in 1987 and has served in that role since. Lane also served as the interim director of the JC Raulston Arboretum from 1997 to 1999. He has received numerous local, regional and national teaching awards and is frequently invited to speak at many workshops and symposia about teaching, as well as about horticulture and gardening.
Lane is also well-known as the host of the Emmy Award-winning TV series “In the Garden with Bryce Lane,” wherein since 2003 he has invited viewers to delve into the science behind plants and plant growth through an array of gardening subjects. The series was originally produced in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ former Department of Communication Services through joint sponsorship by CALS Academic Programs and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. Its debut marked the first time in 40 years that UNC-TV had broadcast a college-credit course for the university system.
Susanna Lane worked as a stay-at-home mom until their daughters, Sarah and Meghan, went to school. She then earned her nursing degree at Wake Technical Community College and worked as a cardiac nurse at Raleigh’s Rex Hospital until her retirement.
“When Susanna and I started talking about an endowment, we thought about where there might be a hole, a need where students might be served,” Bryce Lane said. “Horticulture students need field trips to go where the work is being done, to be outside of the classroom.
“We saw this need over the years,” he said, noting past excursions “where we visited many horticultural operations, either up and down the coast or out west — gardens that we visited here or international field trip opportunities to Europe and Australia. Susanna was involved in those trips just as much as I was, because her work here enabled me to go.”
Joining the Lanes at the signing ceremony were Dr. Sam Pardue, CALS associate dean and director of Academic Programs, and Dr. John Dole head of the Horticultural Science Department, along with numerous colleagues, friends and family members – including the Lanes’ daughters and their five grandchildren.
“Bryce embodies the model for teaching, the love for teaching,” Pardue said. “Every day, he was an ambassador — the apostle for horticulture, enthusiastic about the role horticulture plays in our lives, homes and communities. Bryce discovered early on what his calling was, and it shows in the affection he has for horticulture.”
Lane invested himself in the growth of students for decades, Pardue said. “There are generations of students who came to N.C. State whose experiences were shaped by Bryce. His expertise is recognized throughout the country and internationally. This endowment will enable students to travel and experience the world of horticulture. It will impact their education and bring a great deal of opportunity for our students.”
Dole, who noted Lane’s many achievements over the years, as teacher, on the many trips he conducted and as host and producer of “In the Garden with Bryce Lane,” said, “I think Bryce Lane is responsible for more students going into horticulture than anybody in the United States.
“Retirements mean looking at the past, but endowments look at the future. We want to thank Bryce and Susanna for providing future students with these opportunities.” – Terri Leith
Gifts to the new endowment may be made online at http://go.ncsu.edu/bryce_end.