UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
October 13, 2015 – Fourteen students from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls attended the 44th Annual Mid-America Collegiate Horticulture Society (MACHS) conference hosted by Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, October 8-11. The UWRF team took third place.
The conference included tours of the regional horticulture industry, professional development and networking opportunities, and an intercollegiate competition. David Zlesak, associate professor of horticulture, and Sonja Maki, associate lecturer in horticulture, accompanied the students on the trip.
The UWRF team took third place in a competition made up of a general knowledge exam, and practicums on woody plant identification, herbaceous plant identification and plant quality evaluation. UWRF team members were: Amanda Deml of Ellendale, Minn., Katie Eggert of Hutchinson, Minn., Mitchell Haase of Mukwonago; and Nicholas Peter of Athens. Individually, Haase took first place in the herbaceous plant identification component and second place overall in the competition.
Students who were not designated as an official team member could still compete for individual awards. Molly Bartel, Baraboo took second place and Amy Behnken of Elgin, Minn., took third place in the knowledge exam. Two UWRF students tied for the third place in the herbaceous plant identification component: Nicholas Peter, and Marissa Nechtua of Mosinee. Nechtua also finished third in the plant quality evaluation practicum.
During the conference, the group toured the Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus and ISU 230-acre Horticulture Research Station north of Ames. They also traveled to Des Moines and toured the Des Moines Botanical Garden and visited the USDA North Central Plant Introduction Station whose mission is to conserve genetically-diverse crop germplasm and conduct research for crop improvement.
Before heading back to River Falls, Zlesak gathered some friends and colleagues of the late Griffith Buck, and along with the students, took Buck’s wife, Ruby, out to celebrate her 99th birthday. Buck was a long time member of the horticulture faculty at Iowa State and a nationally known rose hybridizer. Buck’s roses are known for their hardiness and disease resistance and so were among the first to be evaluated under the Earth-Kind® system. Zlesak is the coordinator for the Northern Earth-Kind® Rose Trials including the trial site at the ISU Horticulture Research Station managed by Nick Howell, station superintendent.