During a biology lab course held in the new UW Biology Greenhouse, Sara Stokes had an epiphany. A few weeks into the course, she was determined to become a greenhouse volunteer.
“I knew the greenhouse had to be a bigger part of my life,” says Stokes, a UW biology major with a minor in bioethics. “I absolutely fell in love with the wide diversity of plants on display and the incredible beauty of this reserve of nature, right on campus. I had to get closer.”
Greenhouse manager Katie Sadler says Stokes is not alone. Most greenhouse volunteers — there are currently 17 — discover the facility through a course or a tour and get hooked. They help greenhouse staff care for the plants, from watering to potting to plant hygiene. Joining them on the team are about a dozen docents, mostly graduate students, who lead greenhouse tours.
A few years ago, none of these opportunities were possible. The University’s previous greenhouse was dismantled in 2016, and until the new building opened in 2021, the plants lived in a temporary facility far from campus. For plant enthusiasts, it’s been a joy to see the new greenhouse flourish.