Every day, Lucy Chamberlain ‘77 and her student interns Elijah “Eli” Skaggs ’21 of Galion and Helen Frazier ’22 of Cleveland tend to four campus gardens as well as one off campus (a garden by the Hiram Historical Society), plus some areas of the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station.
Majoring in environmental studies and minoring in education, Skaggs focuses in on the natural systems of the world. His internship allows him to explore those systems through intensive and educational gardening. Frazier, on the other hand, will be a first-year student this upcoming August. She is considering majoring environmental studies or biology and wants to minor in creative writing. During her visit as a prospective student, Frazier met a Hiram professor who pointed her environmental interests in the right direction. Now, before she even starts college, Frazier is living and working on campus.
“I’m generally excited to learn about how to take care of the plants. I am also doing this to help me figure out what I want to do with my future,” she says.
Along with caring for the campus’s green inhabitants, Skaggs and Frazier have been tasked with learning the plants’ colloquial and Latin titles.
“I have to unlearn everything to learn it again … I feel like I’m taking baby steps into nature,” says Skaggs, adding that the Latin titles are easy to understand because plants are described by their names.
“It’s weird,” he says, shading his eyes from the sun, “because we have already known [Latin]. It’s integrated into our language. I know what ‘tri’ and ‘poly’ mean so, now, I’m just incorporating it more in what I do.”
Both Frazier and Skaggs plan to take Latin at Hiram College this year.
Reflecting on her students’ dual floriculture-Latin interests, Chamberlain says, “People can learn all sorts of things. And, two of my interns are learning—of all things—Latin while gardening.”
This year, Chamberlain hopes to incorporate the gardens into Alumni Weekend celebrations. In the meantime, students, staff, and faculty meander through the vibrant green spaces to enjoy the plants. “The most important thing that people need to know is that these gardens are public,” Chamberlain says.
Hiram’s campus gardens include the Hurd Garden, a medicinal garden behind Mahan House, the Hester-Crawford Herb Garden behind Bonney Castle, the Labryrinth Garden, and Pendleton Garden behind the History House.