UVU Plant ID Team Identifies Success at Competition

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After a stellar performance in an international plant identification competition, UVU held a reception to celebrate the success of their plant identification team.

Recently the Plant Identification team of UVU’s Botany Club placed 6th in an international plant identification competition held by the Society for Range Management in Miami Florida.  Schools across the nation, Mexico, and Canada, totaling 22 schools, competed in the competition.

In the competition participants were given samples of plants in rough condition, and had to identify the plant samples under a 60 second time limit.

UVU’s plant identification team featured three students.  Most of the schools they were competing with featured teams consisting of around 15 students.  Team members competed individually.  Then the three highest scores from each team determined their rank in the competition.

With UVU only having three participants, all three members of the team had to perform at their best level.  UVU’s team was made up of students Megan Covert, Austin Harvey, and Eric Lindstrom.  Covert held the highest score on the UVU team, and ranked 18 overall in the competition.

What makes UVU’s plant identification team even more compelling and impressive its relatively short existence compared to the plant identification teams of the schools they were participating against.  UVU’s plant identification team began in 2001 and since its inception they’ve always placed in the top 10.  Many of the schools they compete against have had programs that are significantly older.

“The teams UVU competes against have programs that are hundreds of years old”, said Renee Van Buren, professor in department of biology, “A deep ingrained tradition of range programs that know this stuff and have a full support team.  UVU has a reputation among international groups now and the other universities; we’re the real biologists, because we don’t even have a range program and yet we can compete at the top level with them.”

Ally Searle, UVU alumni and current botany lab manager coached the team.  Searle was a part of the first group that began UVU’s plant identification team in 2001.

“These guys are extremely dedicated to the team,” said Searle. “The time they put in went beyond what I was requiring of them.”

During the state competition held in November, UVU’s plant identification team ranked higher than Utah State’s team, and in February’s international competition, UVU placed higher than BYU.  Both Utah State and BYU featured significantly larger teams than UVU’s team.

Thursday Feb 27, a reception in the Science Building was held to celebrate the team’s accomplishment.  At the reception Ian Wilson, senior vice president of academic affairs, and Daniel Fairbanks, interim dean of college of science and health, spoke.

In his remarks, Wilson congratulated the team and expressed how their success illustrates the dedication the staff of the school has for their students.

“To be able to go to Florida and compete internationally and to accomplish what you have done is commendable of you”, said Wilson. “I also think it’s an indication of the program you are in.  That you can be assured you have great faculty, great resources, and are being taught first class information that’s giving you the opportunity to show that.”