Costello accepts position as McCrory operations manager


By Sara Bertsch Managing Editor

 McCrory Gardens, a botanical garden located east of campus contains 25 acres of various flowers, plants and trees that require a lot of upkeep, and a lot of work. To help with the heavy workload, the Gardens has recently welcomed Heather Costello as their new operations manager in an effort to spruce things up.

Costello, former SDSU academic events coordinator, will oversee the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center as well as the botanical gardens. Specifically, she will be working on budgeting, marketing and staffing functions.

Only a few weeks into her new job, Costello is finding that the staff is one of the many perks of her new position.

“It’s great, I love it. There’s lots to do. There is great people out here, great volunteers and great staff. Everybody’s really dedicated to the success of the gardens,” Costello said.

Costello has plenty of management experience under her belt which has helped her secure her new position. In the past, she has managed the Performing Arts Center, worked on events for the Provost Office and the Office of Academic Affairs.

Her co-worker, Cindy Peterson, the special events coordinator at McCrory Gardens, seems to think that her experience is what makes her the right person for the job.

“It’s a little overwhelming stepping into a new position,” Peterson said. “But with her background that she’s had in the special event industry, it’s easier for her to step in with her background. Also, her


experience with SDSU she just knows how the university works.”

Both Peterson and Costello work together closely and have set some high standards for themselves and McCrory Gardens.

“The future is promising and it’s exciting to see where the Gardens will be,” Costello said. “We’re working on strategic plans soon and that will be exciting to see where that takes us.”

One of the main goals for the upcoming year is to book the facility more and generate more revenue. Costello hopes that they will begin to come into their own in the near future and when people are looking to have an event, they think of McCrory Gardens as a worthy option.

“I think it’s really important that we reach out to SDSU and part of the community as well. It’s a really nice tie-in between SDSU and Brookings,” Peterson said. “Our goal is to offer more things that are happening at McCrory and give people even more reasons to come see us and enjoy the Gardens.”

Costello and the staff are preparing for the upcoming 50th anniversary of McCrory Gardens. So far, the staff is still in the planning stages for how to celebrate this significant feat.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary, we want to protect the investment that has been going on for the next 50 to 100 to 150 years,” Costello said.

Chris Schlenker, head gardener at McCrory Gardens, is excited for what the future holds for the Gardens and


the even bigger part of the community life that should arise.

“Our previous administrative team did a wonderful job in getting us to where we are today, despite the many other demands on their time and effort,” Schlenker said. “Having Heather join the team, who can dedicate 100 percent of her time and effort to furthering the development of the Gardens, is fantastic.”

If there is one emotion to describe how Schlenker, Peterson and the rest of staff feel about the year ahead, it’s excitement.

“I’m excited to have her here … it’s going to give us the ability to do more things and I’m excited. I think we can do a lot together… We have a really dedicated staff and we are just welcoming her help,” Peterson said.

SDSU students are allowed into the Gardens for free with a valid student ID. Anyone who wishes to visit the gardens can become a member of the Friends of McCrory Gardens program for a fee. Non-members will be charged an admission fee of $6 for adults (over the age of 16) and $3 for children six to 15.