By John Michael Guerrero
The sun beams down on you as the smell of plants and vegetation fills the air. Hands-on gardening opens up various opportunities to learn more about the world of botany from experienced people in the field.
A community that is close knit and there to help you grow is what perfectly defines Riverside City Colleges’s Plant Club.
“I have been asked repeatedly about starting a club associated with plants,” Virginia White, advisor for Plant Club, professor of biology and Director of the Greenhouse and Outdoor Plant Lab, said. “(The student employees) like to learn a lot of new things so they thought other people might be interested to have the opportunity to learn about it too.”
Starting this semester, it is not recognized by the Associated Students of Riverside City College (ASRCC), but they hope to be considered an official club by the fall.
White said many people can feel discouraged from exploring plants because they can be expensive to buy and maintain. The Plant Swap helps introduce people interested in plants to a more accessible way.
“It’s nice to get one-on-one talks with someone who is knowledgeable in the field (of botany) to help me with my own plants at home,” Ilala Ynostroz, a student volunteer and member of Plant Club on campus, said.
By spending time in the club they have been able to establish better work ethics in their personal and academic lives.
“It has helped me with patience. Plants take some time to grow, and I relate to that,” Plant Club vice president Matthew Garcia said. “I may not see a sudden change in my life or in my routine, but it will happen.”
Before becoming a board member for the club he originally contacted White to, “do a little more hands-on experiments here at RCC,” within the biology department.
Since the Greenhouse can house plants from across the globe and a wide collection of plants are grown outside, this proved to be the perfect place for Garcia to volunteer at the college.
“When we started Plant Club, we wanted to create a space for students to explore the world of botany,” he said. “There are wonderful volunteers who help maintain the greenhouse, our outdoor space and conduct research.”
They dedicate almost all their time to experience rather than holding a traditional club meeting like any other club at RCC.
“An important takeaway of the club is allowing students to get the hands-on experience that most clubs don’t provide,” Garcia said.
Members help to maintain the various plots by removing weeds, preparing for food giveaways and planting new crops.
“Where we can make that a tangible experience for students is a benefit,” White said.
This place is not only a garden, but also a place people can explore the world of botany and biology through community.
The advisor said many people who participate in the Plant Swap are quite knowledgeable in different types of plants and are always eager to share their knowledge with other participants and students.
“It’s wonderful seeing students come together and make something out (of the club),” the vice president said.
Members are highly dedicated to volunteering at every opportunity possible and continue to work tirelessly to upkeep everything. It is a community that welcomes every and all people, whether experienced or just starting.
The Director of the Greenhouse and Outdoor Plant Lab is always excited to see volunteers and students alike ready to learn and expose themselves to plants.
“The bottom line is plant people are great people,” White said. “My hope is that we introduce them to something they didn’t know and would be interested in or something they didn’t suspect they would have an interest in.”
Plant Club is located at the Outdoor Plant Lab and Greenhouse next to the Math and Science Building breezeway.
If you are interested in volunteering or working at the Outdoor Plant Lab contact: email@example.com