Plant Identification and Use on St. Thomas, USVI: An Undergraduate Class Investigates Local Knowledge

Poster Session
, Juliet - University of the Virgin Islands
, Francheska - University of the Virgin Islands
, Sandy - University of the Virgin Islands/Friday Harbor Laboratories UW

During Fall term 2015, an undergraduate class at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas Campus was introduced to theory and methods related to the science of Ethnobotany. With this background, students carried out an Ethnobotanical Practicum to learn basic field techniques and explore the value of five local plant species to local elders, selected by the students. The five species investigated were chosen through a random process undertaken by the entire class. Following this, the class worked in teams to review literature, preserve voucher specimens, generate interview questions, select and interview elders, and analyze the data. At the end of the Fall term, the students presented to an audience of invited academics and press. We will explain how this hands-on teaching method could become a model for introducing the science of Ethnobotany to undergraduate students.