Bishel donates century-old herbarium to Hastings College

georgia bishel herbarium 2014On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Hastings resident Georgia Bishel, 96, gifted a herbarium to the Biology Department at Hastings College.

Dr. Bill Beachly, Professor of Biology, and Dr. Lee Wigert, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Dept., accepted the gift for the school. Inside the herbarium are more than 40 samples of pressed leaves and plants that are about 100 years old.

At the gift presentation, Beachly explained many of the plant specimens. He also discussed possible future plans because of the donation. “It hasn’t been curated, and I think that’s something I’d like to see as a student project and integrate it into our own collection,” said Beachly. “Those plants may not be found growing here in 50 years.”

Many of the plants that were collected were from the Nebraska prairie and date back to the early 1900s.

Bishel said the collection for this herbarium began with Anna (Garret) Cumming, born around 1888, whose two sons attended Hastings College. Bishel’s mother was able to record brief information for the contents and Bishel herself used the herbarium for a short while to teach her fourth grade class at Longfellow Elementary School in Hastings.

After a few years, Bishel stopped teaching and passed on the collection to Joanne Dreesen, the Longfellow Elementary School sixth grade science teacher at the time. Bishel said Dreesen retired and took the herbarium to Texas with her.

When the Longfellow Elementary School art teacher Janice Greenland went to visit Dreesen in Texas, she brought the herbarium back to Bishel.

“I really felt that was a treasure for me to have for a little while,” said Bishel. Now she wants to have a permanent home for the treasure, and said, “Hastings College is the ideal place for it to be used and cared for always.”


–Written by Amanda Miller, a junior from Woodland Park, Colo, majoring in Journalism

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