$1M gift from Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis to support Pollinators' Garden

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A generous commitment from local leaders will help The Arboretum at Penn State to move forward with its plans for a world-class pollinators’ garden. State College real estate developer Galen Dreibelbis, and his wife, Nancy, have committed $1 million to support construction of the new Pollinators’ Garden in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The Dreibelbises’ gift — together with a major investment from Skip Smith and gifts from other donors — completes the project’s initial fundraising goal and will allow the University to break ground on the project.

“The Pollinators’ Garden will not only enhance research and teaching on pollinators but will also make the Arboretum an even more beautiful and enriching space for the thousands of community members who visit every year,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations at Penn State. “We are grateful to Galen and Nancy for their generosity in helping to make this new feature possible.”

The new Pollinators’ Garden will fulfill the University’s long-standing vision for such a resource.

“For as long as we have imagined the creation of a world-class arboretum at Penn State, we have envisioned a Pollinators’ Garden that would rival the very best of its kind in the world,” said Kim Steiner, director of The Arboretum at Penn State and professor of forest biology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Galen and Nancy’s generous commitment will enable us finally to fulfill this vision, and for that I am profoundly grateful.”

The Pollinators’ Garden will include four main areas with a new Sun Garden at the heart of it all:

  • The Habitat Gardens will feature three pollinator habitats native to central Pennsylvania — woodland, wetland, and a meadow — with the goal of setting the space abuzz with pollinators.
  • The Demonstration Gardens will be home to garden-sized vignettes that each tells a story about how to attract pollinators into backyard gardens.
  • The Research Gardens will invite visitors to participate in research on pollinators that will inform the planting of the Pollinators’ Garden over time.
  • The Food Gardens will feature trees and plants that depend upon insect pollinators to produce fruits and vegetables for human consumption. 
  • The Sun Garden will be the focal point to draw visitors into the various components of the Pollinators’ Garden.

In recognition of the Dreibelbises’ generosity, the University will name a space within the Arboretum in the couple’s honor.

“Nancy and I have long been committed to strengthening the State College community that we call home, and the Arboretum is a tremendous resource for this community,” said Galen Dreibelbis. “With this gift to support construction of the Pollinators’ Garden, we hope to make the Arboretum an even richer destination for our fellow residents to enjoy for years to come.”

Galen Dreibelbis, a lifelong resident of the State College area, is a commercial and residential real estate developer. Dreibelbis served three terms in the state legislature (1971-77) before retiring to devote full time to managing Nittany Gas and Oil Co., a firm which he founded in 1956 and sold in 1982, and to his other business interests. The University named him a Renaissance Fund honoree in 1993 and an honorary alumnus in 1994. He serves today as a presidential counselor. Nancy Dreibelbis, a native of Mifflin County, is an active volunteer in the State College community and is highly involved with her church, St. Peter's United Church of Christ. She has been a longtime enthusiast of Penn State athletics, particularly women’s basketball. The couple’s past giving to Penn State has benefited the College of Agricultural Sciences, Smeal College of Business, Intercollegiate Athletics, and areas across the University. They also have made major gifts to Mount Nittany Medical Center. 

The Arboretum is continuing to seek gifts from alumni and friends who wish to name a space within the new Pollinators’ Garden. To discuss how you can become involved, contact Patrick Williams, director of development for the Arboretum, at or 814-865-0441.

Gifts from Penn State's alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University's historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university: Private support will keep the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; create transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impact the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

Last Updated March 28, 2018