6 Ways to Turn College Students Into Plant Lovers

6 Ways to Turn College Students Into Plant Lovers


Horticulture Club members bond and learn about opportunities in horticulture by growing and selling plants and hosting talks and workshops from renowned guest speakers like Thomas Rainer, author of “Planting in a Post-Wild World.”

Jared Barnes, an Assistant Professor of Horticulture at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas, leads a Horticulture Club at the university, where student members meet weekly to organize plant sales, plan trips to their favorite plant-based hot spots, and discuss their interest in horticulture.


How has the group managed to attract students who otherwise might not share their same passions? Barnes highlights six steps to success.

1. Experience Not Required: When the club posts signs around campus to find new members, it doesn’t ask for horticulturists or gardeners. Rather, it simply asks for plant lovers or those who have a fascination with nature or an interest in environmentalism.
2. Offer a Free Plant: Some club members will provide free succulents to prospective new members as an incentive.
3. Think Outside the Box: Whether it’s hosting events like a native plant walk, or focusing on non-traditional crops (mushrooms, for example), the group aims to provide a unique experience.
4. Getting Back to Nature: At a time when young people seem to be more disconnected to the outside world than ever, showing them something in nature they’ve never seen before can spark a new interest.
5. Don’t Judge: Barnes says the Horticulture Club provides a place for novice plant geeks to share their thoughts, including using social media apps like GroupMe.
6. Bring in Experts: Recently, the group hosted Claudia West and Thomas Rainer, authors of “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes” to offer their real-world experiences. Moving forward, the club will likely invite more guest speakers.