New student club joins NMU ranks

Andy Slaven

A new student organization on campus focuses on the study of plants and everything affecting them such as soils, fungi and other environmental factors.

re-plantecologyCo-founder of the Plant Ecology Club Alex Graeff outlined goals of the group in two points: “to foster broad student interest and participation in activities such as plant ecology, field identification, general to advanced vascular plant taxonomy, attending to and organizing herbarium collections; and to assist students in developing field botany skills and leadership abilities.”

Graeff graduated from Northern in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in both biology and ecology. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in biology. He said he started the club with fellow student and senior biology major Nick Zoller in an attempt to bring students together who have an interest in plants.

“On top of that, we want to provide opportunities for volunteering, joining research projects, and any connections we can give will go a long way in professional development,”
Graeff said.

Members of the club help to work on research projects, some pertaining to master’s degree research, and travel to surrounding areas exploring native plant life. The club also does volunteer work for the Outdoor Learning Area like pulling weeds or helping with plant maintenance.

Additionally, the club travels around areas in the Upper Peninsula to various native plant sites.

Three weeks ago, the club traveled an hour south of Marquette to a wetland where they identified and recorded plants. While there, the club also examined orchids, plants, insects and birds that are unique to the Upper Peninsula. The club is currently compiling a list of plant species they encountered on their visit.

On the weekend of Sept. 24, club members journeyed to Hiawatha National Forest to assist the U.S. Forest Service with seed collection.The group is also attempting to attend the Michigan Botanical Club Foray in May.

Graeff said the club is for anybody with an interest in plants or anything related to plants.

“It’s not just about plants, it’s about all of the interactions associated with them,” he said. “The Plant Ecology Club offers many professional interactions and will provide those connections for students interested in this field.”

The club’s Facebook page describes the group as, “for those with an appreciation of plants—amateurs and connoisseurs alike!”

Zoller said club activities like traveling and identifying plants provide members with an experience that could only be obtained in a real-world setting. He said anyone is welcome to join the club but it is mostly made up of biology majors with a growing interest from students with ecology majors.

“We were originally going to call ourselves the Plant Club but that name excluded a lot of people,” Zoller said. “The club is about a lot more than just plant stuff and we thought it would be more interesting if we added more stuff that involves everything related to biology.”

The club meets every Thursday at 4 p.m. in room 1214 of the New Science Facility. There are 14 members who are currently registered in the group. For more information, the club can be reached by email at [email protected] or by visiting their Facebook page.