Greenhouse opens house


The greenhouse open house, which occurred on Feb. 7, was curated by biology students and professors with the intent to display the educational importance of the greenhouse. Photos by Amara Garibyan

Abby Malzewski, Staff Reporter

On Friday, Feb. 7, the greenhouse located off the Hall of Science building opened its doors to the public, giving visitors the opportunity to take tours of the plant-filled space. 

Two students working for the facility, seniors Aubrey May and Chantalle Vincent, explained different plant types, answered questions about various features of the greenhouse and displayed the current selection of blooming flowers. The two were stationed in the desert or tropical cells of the space for whenever community members or students passed by and were curious about certain types of plants.

The event was curated by biology students hired to run the greenhouse under the supervision of Professor Heidi Dobson, a biology professor, and Travis Morgan, a biology lab coordinator and environmental studies technician. 

The greenhouse is used as a lab space for certain biology courses, including BIO-111 and BIO-112, as well as for student research.

Vincent discussed the educational nature of the greenhouse.

“The goal of this greenhouse is to be a teaching greenhouse,” Vincent said. “Other than the student workers here, most students aren’t getting the chance to interact with these plants or see them at all, so we really just wanted to find a way to open the space up to the Whitman community.”

May elaborated on the accessibility of the greenhouse. 

“A bunch of friends know I work here, but it’s kind of this mysterious biology department thing,” May said. “It’s this really cool space and we wanted to share our excitement for plants and just make it more accessible to folks who are interested.”

The greenhouse is also the location of the plant sale at the beginning of each semester, the greenhouse’s biggest form of communication with the campus. 

“We sell a bunch of propagations from these plants themselves, so it’s also cool to see where these things are coming from,” May said. “This way they’re not just going to go out to people’s dorm rooms and never know the parent plants.”

Senior greenhouse worker Nick Sekits commented on why an event like this one has not taken place before.

“I think it just hasn’t been something that has been a focus or considered something that people might be interested in,” Sekits said. “It’s kind of a test run at this point, you know, to see if people will show up. We want to give it a shot.”

Sekits noted that increased accessibility was the goal of the open house.

“We want to get people more involved in the greenhouse and increase awareness of the greenhouse,” Sekits said. “Depending on how this goes, we’re thinking about maybe making it a monthly sort of thing, so if people miss it, that can be a possibility.”

The students noted that different plants inside the greenhouse are constantly changing and bloom at different times, differentiating experiences in the greenhouse between months. 

The greenhouse team is also working on an Instagram account for the space, a strategy that would give the area more of a presence on campus. The account would offer updates and other posts about the space.

Vincent elaborated on the potential impact of the greenhouse’s future Instagram page.

“We want the greenhouse to be something that can be on people’s minds so people can learn everyday or a few times a week: ‘Oh, cool. This thing is blooming right now,’ which is a very casual way to learn more about biology and plants,” Vincent said.

May discussed the future of the greenhouse.

“I would like to see it more accessible,” May said, “especially as we reach a month where there’s a certain cool thing happening and the campus can also be excited with us that it’s happening.”

The next greenhouse open house will take place on March 6.