Behind the pumpkin carving, the giggling children and the butterflies that visited the beautiful, still-flowering petunias just outside, a strong volunteer force helped keep the Quad-City Botanical Center blooming, growing and educating.

Volunteers from Augustana College, Rock Island, assisted families who carved pumpkins — in addition to other activities that included creating a “chalk monster crime scene” on the sidewalk — Sunday afternoon at the center, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island. Renee Layman, an Augustana junior from Homer Glen, Ill., was having a great time.

“I thought it would be fun to carve pumpkins with the kids,” she said. “It was nice to get off campus and be around little kids,” she said. Layman, who recently transferred to Augustana, said it was the first time she had visited the center. “It’s nice to find something in the area that’s peaceful and pretty,” she said.

Among the folks who were carving pumpkins were Dora Christy, of East Moline, and daughters, Rebecca Christy, 8; Anna Christy, 7; and Mary Christy, 6. They carefully toted their jack-o’-lanterns to the car.

“We enjoy coming here,” said Dora Christy, whose family is a member of the center. “They have a lot of nice programming. They provide several fun family activities.”

“We moved her four years ago, and we were looking for places we could visit and enjoy as a family,” Christy said. “We also appreciate the reciprocal memberships.” Joining the Quad-City Botanical Center provides admission to partnering facilities.

Beth Peters, marketing and visitor services manager, said the center used to present a one-time harvest festival. “Then, we thought it would be nice to do something every weekend during October,” she said.

Volunteers are vital to the center, she said. “Augie volunteers come every weekend. We have some from sororities and also the biology students, who get extra credit for helping us. We also have work-study students from Scott Community College, along with other volunteers,” she said. “I love that the colleges are promoting volunteerism.”

Peters, who has been with the center for 15 years, said at first many of the visitors were gardeners. “Now I’m seeing the visitor base include more families,” she said, adding that gardeners continue to visit and support the organization.

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