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Botany 2005 Home

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Connecting People to Plants-Botanical Messages that Make a Difference

Koptur, Suzanne [1].

Plants and People: "top-down" vs. "bottom-up" approaches.

As a plant ecologist and university professor at a large urban state university, I teach courses to undergraduate and graduate students. In lower division courses I strive to lure young minds to the green side, and in upper division and graduate courses usually engage the converted with various ways of questioning, thinking, and investigating phenomena in botany, ecology, and plant/animal interactions (a "top-down approach"). Through guest lectures in other departments and teaching in interdisciplinary courses I reach a wider audience, and I welcome opportunities to participate in campus activities focusing on the environment. Some of my university students become teachers and researchers; many become natural areas managers and otherwise use their plant knowledge in protection and stewardship of the environment. Giving talks, leading walks, and making connections with members of the community in natural history groups is also a great area for my "influence peddling", acting locally and thinking globally. Most of these activities involve only adults, but recently I have found working with children even more exciting. I have worked on the landscape committee of a local elementary school, creating an ecological schoolyard (a work in progress). I have given classes on science subjects but have shifted my focus now to helping the teachers utilize the outdoors to enhance their teaching in many subject areas. I have given many "Career Days" presentations for K-5 students using potted plants and hand puppets with student puppeteers to help explain what I study and why it is fun to do what a botanist does. It is wonderful to have children tell me "I want to be a botanist!". Though I was not trained for this, I find this sort of "bottom-up" botanical propaganda rewarding as it opens a world of positive career opportunities to young people at an impressionable age.

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Related Links:
Suzanne Koptur's Web Page

1 - Florida International University, Department of Biological Sciences, 11200 Sw 8Th Street, Oe167, Miami, Florida, 33199, USA

active learning
K-12 education
plant/animal interactions
ecological schoolyard.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: 14-4
Location: Salon G - Austin Grand Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 3:30 PM
Abstract ID:119

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