Students enjoy classes at Life Sciences Greenhouse

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Many students think of campus as a place to sit at a desk and listen to a lecture. In the Life Sciences Greenhouse, however, students and professors get their hands dirty learning about plants and systems.

Students from all different majors can take classes in the greenhouse. Art, plant and wildlife science majors and engineering majors take classes on interior plants and landscapes, plant propagation or a variety of other plant-related subjects.

Senior Bailee Svenson is currently enrolled in interior plants and landscapes. The class teaches how to care for indoor plants, create Bonsai tree masterpieces and plan plant installations. Svenson said she enjoys being able to get in the dirt during her plants class.

“I just think there’s something really good about working with the plants and seeing them and kind of understanding how things go,” Svenson said.

Sevenson’s professor, Wendy Vawdrey, began working in the greenhouse during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were able to attend class in person in the greenhouse during that time because of the course topics.

“Some of them, I’m not kidding, would start crying because they were actually in sunshine and they were working with plants and they had some camaraderie here,” Vawdrey said.

According to Vawdrey, working with plants in the greenhouse is good for the soul and is the reason the Plant and Wildlife Science Department is thriving.

“I think that this class gives them a lifelong love of plants. Well that would be my hope anyways,” Vawdrey said.

The greenhouse is divided into different bays, or rooms, for different types of plants and projects. The tropical room, temperate room and desert room are home to different plants that need a variety of humidity and light levels to flourish.

Vawdrey has a love of plants in the tropical room, especially the orchids.

“I find orchids fascinating because in their native habitat in Hawaii and other places they grow on the bark of trees. So if you go into our tropical area … they’re actually planted straight in the bark,” Vawdrey said.

Other areas of the greenhouse include a sunken room with a variety of different plants where students can study and a hydroponics lab where students are taught how to grow plants without soil.

Each of the plants found in the greenhouse are grown for the benefit of students here at BYU, whether art students are sketching the plants or wildlife science students are building sustainable farming systems.         

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