An arboretum is a place where woody plants, trees, shrubs, and vines are grown for exhibition and study. The 11-acre Joliet Junior College Arboretum was started in 1975 with financial assistance from the JJC Foundation. The arboretum is located on JJC's 368-acre Main Campus, between the entrance and exit roads, adjacent to Houbolt Road at the main gate.
The college arboretum concept was originated by Dr. William M. Zales in 1975 as part of a master campus use plan. Upon Dr. Zales's retirement in 1999, the arboretum was renamed in his honor to recognize his contributions. The master plan includes development of nature trails, restoration of native ecosystems, such as the prairie, fen, various stages of forest successional types, soil conservation measures for the agricultural crop land, and management plans for the campus lake.
These continuing projects are managed by the JJC Natural Areas Committee, the Grounds Advisory Committee, and the college's building and grounds staff. In the spring of 2004, the JJC Foundation and Alumni Relations (The Office of Institutional Advancement) and the Natural Area Committee launched a new project called Trees for Tomorrow to raise funds for the continued development and maintenance of the arboretum.
Funds from the Friends of the Arboretum will be used to purchase and plant trees for the arboretum. These outdoor facilities are used and enjoyed by students both in and out of the classroom, as well as by faculty, staff and community members from throughout the district.