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UVU Plant Identification Team Takes First Place at State Competition

23 November 2010 No Comment

November 23, 2010
For Immediate Release

For more information: Ally Searle (801) 863-8695
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Chelsey Richardson (801) 863-8504

Utah Valley University’s plant identification team took first place overall at a statewide competition earlier this month in Logan, Utah, hosted by the state chapter of the Society for Range Management.

In less than 60 seconds, a member of the Utah Valley University plant identification team can look at a pressed plant specimen and identify it to family, genus, and species. The team trains all year, studying and memorizing the characteristics of 200 plants, a valuable skill that will help these botany and biology majors in their future careers as botanists, ecologists, or range managers.

Misty Curtis, a UVU biology education major, took first place on the plant identification test and third place on the combined plant identification test and undergraduate range management exam on Nov. 4, which included questions in ecology and range sustainability. For example, a how many cattle a ranch can support without overextending its resources. UVU botany majors Christiana Laudie and Aaron Searle took fourth and fifth place respectively in the plant identification exam.

“This is an awesome achievement because we took first, and three of our participants placed in the top five,” said Ally Searle, the team’s coach and the manager of the UVU botany lab. “Attending these meetings and placing in competitions brings the spotlight not only to our students but to the UVU botany program as well. Students make contacts with potential employers and faculty from graduate schools, and from their success here they will be presented with many employment and education opportunities.”

Students on the team have had summer internships with the state Division of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, and Red Butte Gardens, where their work included vegetative surveys. They were heavily relied on for their plant identification abilities, a direct result of students’ preparation and participation as members of the plant identification team, said Searle.

The team will compete next in February at the annual International Society for Range Management

plant identification competition in Billings, Montana. The UVU team has met with success in the past, continually placing in the top 10 along with Texas A&M, the University of Alberta, and Brigham Young University.

“Once again the plant identification team from Utah Valley University has shown their excellence,” said Sam Rushforth, dean of UVU’s college of science and health. “Their engagement in the plant laboratory has made them all experts in plant identification. I am very proud of our team and this honor.”

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