Otterbein Community Garden installation honors former Dean of Students Gatti and wife

Posted Aug 08, 2019

Otterbein University recently dedicated a new Hummingbird Crossing at the Otterbein Community Garden to former Dean of Students Bob Gatti and his wife, Jackie.

Gatti Hummingbird Crossing
Former Dean of Students Bob Gatti, right, with wife, Jackie

A team of Student Affairs staff wanted to create an opportunity to celebrate Gatti’s contributions to Otterbein. Melissa Gilbert, associate dean of experiential learning and director of the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), remembered the couple’s hummingbird feeders on the porch outside their home, which led to the idea of adding the Hummingbird Crossing to the community garden. The Otterbein Community garden is maintained by the CCE.

The process began with a list of flowers and bushes that are known to attract hummingbirds, which Jackie compiled. From there Gilbert created a layout for the garden based off the list, along with a bench, a sign, and a bird feeder.

Isabella Majoros and Curtis Smith, who run the Maker Space at The Point at Otterbein, designed and created the bird feeder. They also produced an interpretive sign designed by Otterbein student artist Abby Shump, an art history and painting major.

“To be such a huge part in celebrating Bob’s accomplishments at Otterbein is amazing to me and I’m so glad I could do something for the both of them, as they have done so much for me,” said Shump.

Two AmeriCorps members and Otterbein students, Hunter Williams and Lauren Kitchen, took the lead on digging and planting. The whole process of creating the Hummingbird Crossing took about three months.

Jackie opened her home to hundreds of students during Dean Gatti’s tenure at Otterbein, providing a relaxing natural space for the Otterbein community. Placing this crossing within the Otterbein Community Garden honors the couple’s continued support of the CCE’s work at that natural outdoor learning landscape.

“The Jackie and Bob Gatti Hummingbird Crossing is an important reminder to all of us to take the time to reflect on the natural world around us, to ponder the beauty of both the flora and fauna that grace our campus,” said Gilbert.

Otterbein hopes that the Hummingbird Crossing becomes a space for students and community members to learn about all the birds and butterflies who frequent the garden, find quiet and comfort resting after time volunteering at the garden, and share a bench and a story with a friend or new acquaintance.