ESF Students Bring Lessons of Ethnobotany

By Lucia VerSteeg

The ethnobotany presentation by students from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF’s) biological station at The Hub on Wednesday was so informative and interesting. The students set up interactive stations where we learned about medicinal plants, we tried twisting cattails to make cords that were so strong that they could hold many pounds or could be made into bracelets or necklaces, and we drank herbal tea and tasted the buds of day lilies. Who knew they could be so tasty?!

The students were very knowledgeable and communicated with us about the many uses of local plants in ways that we could understand and actually use. I especially appreciated the introduction and conclusion that were offered by an indigenous student from the Onondaga Nation.

She spoke the words of thanksgiving and gratitude that are used by native Americans to give thanks for Mother, the Earth, waters, fish, plants, herbs, trees, animals, birds, and the Creator, and after each portion, she said, “Now our minds are one.” It wasn’t long before the people present repeated together the words ”Now our minds are one.” It was very moving. Her last statement was, “We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it is not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greeting and thanks in their own way. And now our minds are one.”

This ended a very special evening, and I’m very grateful to the students and faculty members who prepared and presented this program.

(Photos by Susan Smith)

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Comments (2)

  1. Susan Sweeney Smith


    Lucia – This was our first public event at the HUB. I will always remember it. It filled the building with hope, with love, with community. It resonated with why we saved the church and turned it into the HUB. I learned things I didn’t know. I was deeply moved by the prayers. I am so grateful you wrote this post. Thank you.

  2. Halsey Bagg


    We were very excited to see young people learning about the world around us; its plants and the uses for foods and medicines. Deb & Halsey

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