Selby Gardens Honors New College Student Collaborators



Last fall, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens announced a collaboration between the Gardens and New College of Florida, providing the opportunity for students from the college to work with Selby Gardens professional staff on plant science, conservation and public outreach. This April 20, the inaugural class of six students will present the findings of their research at an evening in their honor and hosted by Selby Gardens, and collectively receive the first annual Calusa Prize for their efforts.

Moving quickly, the partnership announced in November came to fruition this past January, when six students from New College entered the grounds to work on everything from illustration to evaluation to exhibition. Emily Bleske worked on botanical illustrations for scientific description, while Cassandra Detrio-Darby and Elena Meyer made contributions to a field guide on the ferns of Belize. Iliana Moore evaluated pathogenic fungus in the Mexican bromeliad weevil, and Kaylynn Low the potential spread of exotic fruit trees into Florida ecosystems. Julia Pope assisted in exhibit curation in the Museum of Botany and the Arts. An annual partnership, students working in horticulture, botany, public garden management, research, education, conservation or documentation can apply.

In addition to delivering brief presentations on their experience and research findings, the students will receive, in varying amounts, the $25,000 Calusa Prize to support further scholarly research.

“The enthusiasm shown by the students and amount of work they completed impressed our professional staff,” says Bruce Holst, director of botany at Selby Gardens, who oversaw five of the students’ work. “I’m encouraged about how this partnership can bring the next generation into plant research, and how these students can add new ideas to the field.”

The Calusa Prize will be awarded annually to multiple New College students who complete an internship with Selby Gardens. Projects will help further the mission of the Gardens and also ensure new generations of scientists are engaged with plant conservation and education.

Student presentations are on April 20, and free and open to the public.

Pictured: Pen and ink botanical illustration by Emily Bleske. Image courtesy of Selby Gardens.

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