What is your role in the Botanical Club?
Brittany Tonsi: I am the president of the MacEwan Botanical Club. I oversee the logistics of the club and make sure that events run smoothly.
Nicklas Baran: And I am the secretary. I used to serve as the president but the club recently had an election and Brittany Tonsi won and is now leading the club. My job consists of informing our members as well as the public of the events we are hosting. I try to keep everyone engaged.
What inspired the creation of the Botanical Club?
NB: We were in a study room and I came up with this idea where we could start a fight club thing where we would grow plants and then use them in martial arts fighting. So initially it was a joke, but the idea lingered in my head and the more I thought about it I realized that actually establishing a botanical society on campus could be a reality. I did some more research, found the appropriate applications on the SAMU website and started the process of legitimizing ourselves.
Who should join the club?
BT: Really anyone who is interested, we strive to be an inclusive community from biology students to avid gardeners to those who just have a few plants growing in their apartments and want to learn more. We are a new club so we really like to try to get input as to what our members are interested in such as composting or terrariums, so we could try to form an event out of those interests.
When do you meet?
BT: We don’t host formal weekly meetings as we realize that everyone is fairly busy during the school year, but we like to host several events throughout the year. Due to the nature of our club, we are looking to incorporate more events over the summer as well. A week ago we had a foraging event where our botanist on campus, Karen Christensen-Dalsgaard, acted as a guide for our event which took place in the Edmonton river valley and identified as to which plants are edible and inedible in our environment.
Why is it important that a club like this exists?
NB: I think that it is a great educational opportunity. Most people spend their lives without much awareness of the plants surrounding us and the various benefits that they can provide. Various psychological studies have found that plants increase the general liveability of an area as well as human well-being in general. We like to help increase people’s knowledge about topics like these and on issues such as evolution as well as climate change. Bringing the community together is also something we strive for.
What are some of the upcoming initiatives that you have planned?
BT: On the first day back in September we are hosting a “salad potluck” where each ingredient in the meal has been grown separately by each of our members during the summer. We are also planning plant sales which will benefit the club as it will help promote the cause as well as enrich the lives of our supporters.
What is the vision for this club and where do you see it heading in the next couple years?
NB: Our focus will remain on education in the coming years but we would love to expand our reach to more people. Connecting with individuals is great but real change comes with the masses.
BT: We are really trying to hone in on the promotion of sustainability, so collaboration with MacEwan is something we are looking forward to in terms of the greenery on campus and environmental impact.
Is there anything else you want people to know about the club?
NB: We really want to push the idea of inclusivity and let everyone know that regardless of your amount of experience in the field of botany, that you are welcome and we would love to have you as part of our growing community of biologists, students and plant-lovers on campus.