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Sustainable Horticulture interns shape campus

Program co-coordinators Chris Huang and Cameron Long take a break from planting a new plant to pose for a photo, kneeling with the landscape in the background.
Program co-coordinators Chris Huang (left) and Cameron Long, who each have year of experience in the program, helped direct and guide the interns as they filled in the landscape along La Rue Road.

From outside Bainer Hall to the Social Sciences Building (aka Death Star) courtyard, the Arboretum and Public Garden’s Learning by Leading™ Sustainable Horticulture interns have been hard at work maintaining landscapes all over campus throughout fall quarter.

Learning by Leading

The Sustainable Horticulture internship is one of thirteen Learning by Leading™ programs. The internship provides students with “hands-on experience doing all the different things involved in creating and maintaining sustainable landscapes,” according to Ryan Deering, GATEways horticulturist and staff mentor of this program. Throughout the internship students learn how to design and install gardens, irrigation systems and paths, as well as perform long-term maintenance.

A group of interns work together to prepare the ground for new plants
After being quizzed on the different plants that populate the "hellstrip" along La Rue Road interns split into small groups to add new plants to the landscape.

This quarter, Deering focused on familiarizing students with the plants commonly used in campus landscapes and maintenance techniques such as weeding, mulching, pruning, deadheading and adding new plants. The interns got to practice the latter this Tuesday, December 3, as they filled out an already thriving landscape along La Rue Road with new plants.

“My favorite part is getting in the dirt and planting the plants,” Cameron Long, program co-coordinator, said, “It makes you feel like you’re shaping the campus.”

Barren wasteland to thriving landscape

This idea was on full display Tuesday, all around the interns. The varied, sustainable landscape they were working to maintain was completely designed and installed by a prior group of interns. Less than two years ago the area was, in Deering’s words, a “barren wasteland.” This part of the campus was completely transformed and continues to grow because of the hard work of the Sustainable Horticulture interns.

“It’s an art, really. It’s like an art piece that keeps evolving,” Long said of projects like this.

Sustainable leadership opportunity

One of the reasons Sustainable Horticulture projects stick around long enough to evolve is because the program emphasizes sustainability.

“As part of our work we’re always thinking about sustainability, like when we choose drought-tolerant plants for our landscapes. We’re always looking ahead,” Chris Huang, program co-coordinator said.

The Sustainable Horticulture interns will continue to shape campus next year as they design and plant new landscapes in the west end of the Arboretum and south of Shields library.