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SUNY Potsdam Students, Faculty Start Healthy Plant Initiative

L to R: SUNY Potsdam students Michal Weaver and Spencer Paige, with biology faculty member Raymond Bowdish, have created the Healthy Plant Initiative at SUNY Potsdam.

Faculty and students in SUNY Potsdam's biology department have launched the Healthy Plant Initiative. Sponsored by the new Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research, the program aims to ensure healthier plants in offices, classrooms and common areas across campus.

The Healthy Plant Initiative was created by student Michal Weaver as part of her environmental studies capstone project. She got the idea for the program after she and Steve Smith, a classmate in an ecological entomology course, helped to treat plants in the Center for School Partnerships and Teacher Certification.

Weaver and Smith used non-toxic methods to diagnose and treat an infestation for plants housed in the office. They used small slices of potato to attract larvae and yellow sticky cards to capture insects in the plant, which they then studied. After finding that the plant had an infestation of fungus gnats, they used a biological control nematode to control the gnats and remove the problem.

Now, the students are prepared to diagnose and treat any plant on campus, through the Healthy Plant Initiative. They can visit offices for consultations, and may bring plants back to the greenhouse in Stowell Hall to treat and heal.

The initiative will use organic, non-toxic methods to help the College's indoor plants remain healthy and vibrant. Raymond Bowdish, the instructional specialist in the biology department, oversees the program. Bill Brown serves as Weaver's capstone advisor for the project.

To make a request for assistance from SUNY Potsdam's Healthy Plant Initiative, simply email

The Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research (WISER) coordinates student-based research and educational outreach efforts focusing on issues of sustainability and environmental conservation at SUNY Potsdam. To learn more, visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts. Empowered by a culture of creativity, the campus community recently launched Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, which aims to raise $32 million by the College's bicentennial in 2016.


Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918