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ISU’s Horticulture Center provides opportunity and relaxation for all

Written by on September 18, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – On a campus consistently plugged into the newest technological craze, the north side of Normal holds a beautiful place to unwind and unplug. The Horticulture Center is a 23-acre garden/observatory, and is home to various flowers and crops, complete with informational placards for many of the plants. The center is available to all Illinois State University students for academic or leisurely purposes.

The Horticulture Center as it stands today has been around for about 23 years. It is used by Biology majors for hands-on research and volunteering for students interested in agriculture. Director of the Horticulture Center Jessica Chambers had plenty to say about what the center has to offer and the benefits of reconnecting with nature.

“Students can use it in a variety of different ways,” said Chambers. “Volunteering, working, visiting, classes, it’s a great place for students to learn and do things.”

Despite the number of ways students can get involved with the center, it is a rather underutilized facility. Many students have not even heard of the center, let alone made a trip down there or taken advantage of its many resources. Between the Campus Recreation Center with its giant rock wall and the Bowling and Billiards center with its state-of-the-art Esports arena, the simplicity of the Horticultural Center is overshadowed by the novelty of other facilities.

“Academia is one big revolving door,” said Chambers. “Students come in, students leave, same thing with faculty and staff. The job of informing the public will never be over. My kids and I love the Bowling and Billiards Center, but the Horticulture Center brings peace.”

The 21st century brought a massive wave of technological advancements. The enticing nature of screens makes places like the Horticulture Center less frequented than they once were, not to mention finding time within the business of everyday life. However, the constantly plugged-in standard of this century has made unplugging and connecting with nature much more rewarding.

“The hecticness and hurriedness of life can be overwhelming, and if you go to the center, and watch the Monarchs fly by, it’s beautiful,” said Chambers. “Seeing the hairs on the stems of the flowers, or watching the groundhog run by, it calms you down, and you get to marvel at the natural world. Everybody needs that.”