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Students display botanical illustrations in virtual gallery

composite of student works from botanical illustration intensive course

Students in the course Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration (PLHRT 3250) finished up their portfolios last week and selected three of their favorites for display in an online gallery. The course provides an opportunity for students to take a deep dive into advanced botanical illustration techniques, exploring diverse media such as pen and ink, watercolor, graphite and more, says course instructor Marcia Eames-Sheavly.

Although students in the course this semester encountered the same struggles coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and the closing of campus as other students, they made a surprising and exciting discovery, she adds: Immersion in drawing and painting could offer solace, stress relief, and an antidote to the challenges of scattered concentration, as well as a break from the intensive time spent on Zoom.

The spirit of one student, Laura Kramer, is a great example: “It’s weird to be wrapping up my first year at Cornell in my roommate’s basement, especially without access to the art supplies I was supposed to pick up from home over Spring Break,” she writes. “On the bright side, though, the plant life upstate is beautiful and I’m learning to adapt to the lack of fancy art supplies. My pieces featured here were done with a semi-broken fountain pen, some half-dried markers I found in my pencil case from middle school, and a set of kids’ Crayola markers that my roommate found.”

May we all be so resilient.

Eames-Sheavly recognized for teaching excellence

Marcia Eames-Sheavly in Belize leading students in the course Tropical Plants Extravaganza.

Marcia Eames-Sheavly in Belize leading students in the course Tropical Plants Extravaganza.

This spring, Marcia Eames-Sheavly (’83, MPS ’99), Senior Lecturer and Senior Extension Associate in the SIPS Horticulture Section, received the 2020 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Professor of Merit award. Since 1947, this award has recognized excellence in undergraduate teaching, and is considered particularly prestigious because the senior class chooses the recipient.

“Marcia goes out of her way to form deep relationships with her students,” wrote one of the seniors who nominated her for the honor. “She genuinely cares very much for student well-being above all else. Her instruction methods teach students how to reflect deeply on experiences to allow for maximum personal growth and development.

“In all my years at Cornell, I have not witnessed any other professor that had the same positive impact on their students as she does,” the nominator added.

Marcia has created and taught numerous courses, primarily focusing on the intersections between art and horticulture, garden-based learning, and plants and human well-being. They include The Art of Horticulture, the Seed to Supper two-semester course sequence, and several courses with travel experiences to Belize, including Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them. She recently developed Leadership through Peer Mentoring in the Plant Sciences which has served as one of the models for the new peer mentoring model in CALS.

“What those areas all have in common is that they are fundamentally about people’s engagement with our discipline, something students are longing for,” notes Marcia.  She was surprised to discover that during her last five-year appointment period that nearly 700 students had enrolled in her courses, many in smaller courses requiring lots of personal attention.

In spring 2003, she created and began teaching her signature course, The Art of Horticulture, which she handed off to Emily Detrick, horticulturist at Cornell Botanic Gardens, in 2018. She developed three online continuing education courses in botanical illustration, and later started using them as the backbone for the for-credit course Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration.

Other courses Marcia has led include Let Your Life Speak, Hortus Forum Officer Leadership Development, Undergraduate Individual Study in Horticulture, Community Facilitation Practicum, Tropical Plants Extravaganza, Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize, Food, Fiber and Fulfillment: Plants and Human Well-Being and Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (developed with Marvin Pritts).

“Marcia has fostered the most welcoming and genuine atmosphere I’ve ever experienced in a classroom or any setting on campus,” another senior nominator observed. “Her reflective and thoughtful approach to teaching emphasizes that learning rarely happens in one direction and is a lifelong endeavor of continual self-improvement. Her philosophies have shaped my personal and professional life in ways that will stay with me forever.”

“She teaches more than just subjects,” writes another student. “She teaches students about ways of knowing and being that will last a lifetime. Marcia is preparing students to not only be mindful and motivated in the classroom, but is also encouraging us to take our knowledge and go out into our communities to create change and reflect on our impacts.”

Lab instructors adapt to remote teaching

Cornell Chronicle [2020-04-23]:zoom screen

In labs for the class Mushrooms, Molds and More, students are discovering fungi in their areas and sharing photos of them via Instagram and using online resources to identify mushrooms.

And in the class Hands-On Horticulture for Gardeners, Professor Marvin Pritts has asked students to design their own experiments, such as determining whether music helps plants grow, or what the best method might be for propagating Pothos, an ivy, or how to make natural plant dyes.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Cornell instructors to rethink how they teach lab classes, as remote learning has created special challenges for courses considered more hands-on, collaborative and experiential.

Read the whole article.

Art of Horticulture final projects

poppy skateboardIf you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in the Art of Horticulture course, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Emily Detrick (MPS Horticulture ’16), who is a lecturer in the Horticulture Section and Director of Horticulture at Cornell Botanic Gardens, teaches the course.  She started teaching the course —  created by Marcia Eames-Sheavly in 2003 — in 2018.





Hortus Forum Poinsettia Sale Dec. 6&7

If you are looking for some gorgeous poinsettias, whether Tapestry or Red Glitter, Whitestar or Jubilee Jingle Bells, we’ve got you covered!

View all eight varieties available and fill out your pre-order preferences here. Or just come to our sale December 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or December 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Yellow Polyhouse 1135C at Post Circle Ithaca, NY.

Hortus Forum is Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club, cultivating a positive community which fosters a passion for plants and teaches the value of horticulture.

hortus forum poinsettia poster

Majors gather to bake pies

group shot of majors

To get in the holiday spirit, de-stress from prelims, and socialize, new Plant Sciences Majors gathered at the home of Director of Undergraduate Studies Marvin Pritts to bake a variety of pies with help from Plant Sciences Major Coordinator Leah Cook .  A festive time was had by all.

plant sciences majors baking pies

‘Plant Drop’ preview

Lloyd Travern with van full of plants headed for Cornell 'Plant Drop'

In this Facebook video, Lloyd Traven, co-owner of Peace Tree Farm provides a preview of the 1,000 plants headed to Appel Commons for the ‘Plant Drop’ giveaway this afternoon (October 3) at 4:30 p.m. The goal of the drop is to get new students to engage with the wealth of opportunities at Cornell to learn about and enjoy plants. More ‘Plant Drop’ information.

‘Plant Drop’ coming October 3

Plant drop at the University of Florida draws crowd of students.

Last fall a plant drop at the University of Florida distributed 1,000 in less than three minutes.

Free houseplants!  What better way to get new students to engage with the wealth of opportunities at Cornell to learn about and enjoy plants.

On October 3 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Appel Commons, organizers will give away 1,000 spider plants, Chinese money plants, or pilea aquamarines – first come, first served.

Each 6-inch pot will have a plant tag leading students to a webpage detailing opportunities to get involved, including majoring in plants sciences, joining Hortus Forum (Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club), or supporting efforts at Cornell’s student-run farm Dilmun Hill,.

The event is co-sponsored by Cornell Botanic Gardens, CALS School of Integrative Plant Science, and Dilmun Hill Student Farm, with the support of the Collegiate Plant Initiative. Peace Tree Farm – co-owned by Alex Traven ’13 and a former Dilmun Hill farm manager – donated the plants.

Questions? Contact student organizer Jeannie Yamazaki:

Commencement videos

If you missed the festivities this weekend — or want to relive them — you can view videos of the Class of 2019 Undergraduate Recognition Ceremony (recognizing students receiving degrees in Agricultural Sciences and Plant Sciences May 26) and the 2019 Graduate Degree Ceremony (recognizing students receiving MPS, MS and PhD students from each of the five graduate fields within SIPS).

Horticulture honor society inducts 27 new members

pax key

Phi Alpha Xi key

From Mark Bridgen, Professor and Pi Alpha Xi advisor:

Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), the national honor society for horticulture, inducted  a near-record 27 new members at an April 30, 2019 ceremony held in the H. H. Whetzel Room in the Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus. Only the best students in the plant sciences are invited to join this national honor society.

Pi Alpha Xi was founded in 1923 at Cornell University and Cornell is the Alpha Chapter. Originally, it was the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. In recent years it has changed and now honors excellence in all aspects of horticulture.

Since its founding, PAX has grown to 39 chapters at baccalaureate-granting institutions. Its mission is to promote scholarship, fellowship, professional leadership, and the enrichment of human life through plants. PAX was very active at Cornell University for many years, peaking in the 1970s. But the chapter went dormant for several years until its revival in 2013.

PAX inductees and officers with advisors  Neil Mattson (back left) and Mark Bridgen (right).

PAX inductees and officers with advisors Neil Mattson (back left) and Mark Bridgen (right).


Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.


Attendees at the PAX ceremony.

Attendees at the PAX ceremony.




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