New College of Florida and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens began a formal collaboration with a focus on plant science, conservation, and public outreach in 2016.
“There have been some amazing outcomes for both New College students and for Selby Gardens,” explains Brad Oberle, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Biology at New College. “To have this sharing of knowledge on rare plants with our students is advantageous for the Gardens and the future of its research.”
As part of the partnership, Dr. Oberle also has a courtesy research appointment at Selby Gardens. He regularly brings his botany classes to learn about the botanical research, greenhouse collections, and education and outreach opportunities at the Gardens. The collaboration sets a path for sharing research facilities for both Selby Gardens and New College staff, providing international internship opportunities for students, and adjunct positions for staff to work collaboratively.
Students have also assisted on projects with the Selby Gardens’ botany team. For example, some of Dr. Oberle’s students assisted in the repopulation and seed dispersal of giant air plants (Tillandsia utriculata), in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.
“Along with furthering our research and collections here, the partnership provides an opportunity to introduce college students interested in botany to real field work and hands-on learning experiences that assist in their career and personal development,” shares Bruce Holst, Vice President for Botany.
As Dr. Oberle shares, “it is an exciting partnership that helps our students gain exposure to the knowledge and research of the Gardens’ staff, plant collections, and education opportunities.”
Partnerships like these are essential to the growth of Selby Gardens. They allow the Gardens to continue its mission of promoting better understanding and appreciation of the natural world with visitors, and enhancing Selby Gardens’ research efforts.