At-Risk Tool as a Botanical Teaching Tool

Poster Session
CASTLE, Lisa- Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Undergraduate students in three different plant science classes at two primarily undergraduate institutions scored wild-harvested medicinal herbs using the United Plant Saver’s At-Risk Assessment Tool. Here I report on the goals, successes, and failures of scoring plants as a class assignment from educational and conservation perspectives, and offer suggestions for adapting the assignment for other class settings. The goals of this “authentic experience” assignment were to introduce students to medicinal plants and plant conservation efforts, reinforce botanical terminology, and increase data retrieval and sorting skills. Reflection responses from students suggest that the assignment succeeded over classroom exercises with similar educational objectives. Many students also reported frustration with hard-to-find and contradictory information and with the idea that the instructor could not tell them if they were correct. The resultant scores were in the same range as scores from experts, with in-progress documentation making the activity more useful educationally and for conservation.