(Rome, Georgia) – Friends, family, and Georgia Northwestern Technical College faculty and staff gathered at the Floyd County Campus in Rome on Thursday, Nov. 10, to pay tribute to Shannen Ferry, the director of the Horticulture program at GNTC.
Ferry passed away in August after a long battle with cancer. The ceremony memorialized Ferry in one of the most appropriate ways for a horticulturist to be honored – by planting a tree and dedicating it to her memory.
“We chose the Ginkgo tree, not only because Miss Ferry really loved them, but also because it represents too much of her personality,” said former GNTC horticulture student Alice Towe during the dedication.
“This tree is commonly used as street tree because of its resistance to pest damage and its ability to withstand pollution. Miss Ferry, as we all know, was resistant to negativity and always had something positive to say. She did not let the ‘pollution’ of life affect her outlook the way that it affects all of us sometimes,” continued Towe.
Towe said that the species of tree was also chosen because it is known for its healing properties with the heart and the brain.
“Shannen kept our brains sharp with knowledge, and she helped to heal a lot of our hearts,” said Towe. “She was healing and kind to everyone she met, she was tough, she brightened all of our lives, and she was the most resilient person I have ever met.”
Towe was GNTC’s GOAL Award winner in 2015 and was named a finalist for the Technical College System of Georgia’s Student of the Year Award in 2015. She was nominated for the GOAL Award by Ferry.
After the dedication, friends and family helped to plant the tree, which also has a plaque in front of it dedicated to Shannen Ferry’s memory. The tree is located adjacent to GNTC’s horticulture facilities on Woodley Drive, across the street from the main campus.
Horticulture student Virginia White said that Ferry taught her the numerous career opportunities that horticulture has to offer.
“We shared the same love of horticulture, but she also showed me that there can be a lifetime career there and I was not aware how much there was to offer in the field,” said White. “She really opened my eyes to that and it has given me the path that I am going to take for the rest of my life.”
Prior to being the director of Horticulture at GNTC, Ferry was a horticulture professor at the State University of New York in Alfred. She also served as a horticulture specialist with Penn State University’s Cooperative Extension.
The foundation at GNTC has established the “Shannen Ferry Memorial Horticulture Scholarship Fund” in her honor. For more information on how to contribute to the fund contact Jason Gamel, director of institutional advancement, at (706) 764-3810.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.