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Plants help students relieve stress

The applied plant science department aims to lower the stress on campus by selling plants to students.

For his PhD research, BYU-I applied plant science faculty member, Reese Nelson, conducted a science experiment in which the Testing Center put plants in one half of the center and no plants in the other.

Ben Romney, a faculty member of the applied plant science department, said the students that tested in the plant room did significantly better than those who tested in the room without plants. Romney said plants relieve a person’s stress and make them think more clearly.

“Our spirits realize that plants connect us to God,” said Juliet Taylor, a senior studying horticulture.

Texas A&M University conducted a study that observed the effects plants had in the workplace. After eight months, the team of scientists found that men and women had increased innovative thinking, productivity and creativity, according to the study.

Built-up stress can be released from the brain by spending three days in nature, said Nels Hansen, head of the applied plant science department.

Hansen said there is a great need for applied plant science graduates in the workforce. He said that in 2015, 98 percent of graduates with a degree in this field found jobs.

Hansen said there are many job opportunities for applied science majors such as biophilic design.

Hansen said biophilic design is creating a workspace that uses plants and curved lines, not straight, to lower stress and increase productivity.

“The curve reduces your stress, and the straight lines increase your stress,” Hansen said.

He said when the end of a straight hallway is in sight, it stresses a person’s brain.

Hansen said there are buildings that use biophilic design to create a comfortable workspace or classroom environment.

Hansen said in these buildings made by biophilic design, the halls are curved, making it impossible to see the stressful end. He said it has been reported that it is harder for people to leave these buildings because of how relaxing the buildings are.

The department takes care of the Thomas E. Ricks Demonstration Gardens, the greenhouses and the orchards. Romney said the apple orchard is one of the largest repositories of old apple varieties in the country.

Romney said there was a time when he was walking through the orchard, and noticed a Russian student eating an apple. He said she was very embarrassed when he found her. He said he pointed out that the majority of the orchard had a Russian rootstock called Antanovka.

“She got tears in her eyes,” Romney said.

Romney said she recognized that name and told him about eating those apples in Russia.

“To me, it just feels like home,” said Cody Roberts, a junior studying horticulture.

The department promotes plants by selling plants such as succulents, herbs, bamboo and flowers through the plant shop. BYU-I students can buy flowers from the flower shop at different locations around campus, such as the bookstore.

“I think it’s great to think that people come from all over the world, and they can see things in the horticulture department that excite them,” Romney said.

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