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Beth Forys
Professor of Environmental Studies

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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toll-free: (800) 456-9009

Monday - Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies

Native Plants Garden

What are native plants? Native plants are plants that have naturally evolved in a region.

They possess traits that make them uniquely adapted to local environmental conditions.

These plants also provide many ecological benefits and are more resistant to pests and drought than non-natives.

Gardens can serve as educational resources, places where students learn about ecological principles such as photosynthesis, plant and animals adaptations and interactions, soil health and weather. In addition, students involved with designing and caring for campus-gardens develop a sense of environmental responsibility and stewardship.

Eckerd College has had a student-run garden on campus since 1994. The garden represents one of the key concepts in the Eckerd College Master Plan, to "embody an environmentally protective and ecologically sound approach to facilities and land use." Maintenance of the garden is a challenge, with most students off campus during summer months.

In 2005, we received a grant from the National Wildlife Federation's campus Ecology program, which helped expand the garden to its current size of half an acre. In 2007, Professor Ormsby and student Ashely Beijer received a mini-grant from the League of Environmental Educators of Florida (LEEF) to install professional signs labeling the garden species. Professor Ormsby also received a small ASPEC grant in 2004 for the garden.

The Eckerd garden is a demonstration area to show students, faculty, staff, and community members how they could use native plants to create a "Florida-friendly" landscape. Florida-friendly is a broader approach that builds on the principles of xeriscaping, which is landscaping especially designed for a dry (xeric) climate.

The nine principles of Florida-friendly landscaping are; right plant, right place; water efficiently; fertilize appropriately; mulch; attract wildlife; manage yard pests responsibly; recycle; reduce stormwater runoff, protect the waterfront.

Life After Eckerd

Environmental Studies graduates use their Environmental Studies degree to launch careers in such diverse fields as environmental education, natural resource management, parks and recreation, environmental and urban planning, landscape architecture, environmental law and policy making, scientific journalism, public health, nature photography, nature filmmaking, and environmental art. Approximately 1/3 of all Environmental Studies graduates go on to graduate or professional school within 5 years of graduation.

Fiske Top Ten Environmental Studies School
Eckerd College has been selected as one of the top ten environmental studies schools in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011.