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Greenhouse welcomes visitors

November 7, 2013

Sarah Daggett is a work-study student who works in the Greenhouse.
Sarah Daggett is a work-study student who works in the Greenhouse. The work-study students and professors are working hard to keep the Greenhouse running smoothly. Winter is coming, and students can get out of the cold by visiting the Greenhouse on campus. (Desi Danforth/Student Voice)

The Greenhouse on the UW-River Falls campus has been around for many years, but people may be surprised about the new and old things it has to offer.

The Greenhouse consists of eight total different rooms.

“The first four Greenhouse rooms were built in 1972, and the remaining four rooms were added to the original construction between 1988 and 1991,” said Greenhouse and Field Plot manager Dan Waletzko. “This gave us just under 8,000 square feet of growing space for teaching and research.”

Many people think that the Greenhouse is one big room full of different types of plants, but it is much more than that. David Zlesak, associate professor of horticulture, explained the different rooms inside the Greenhouse.

“The Greenhouse consists of what is called the head house, which is the area that we do not grow plants, but we have the computer system that runs the Greenhouse,” Zlesak said. “We store the materials for the plants, such as the pots, soils and fertilizers.”

Off of the head house are the eight different rooms or houses where there are different plant materials.

“We can control the temperature and environment uniquely in each one of the rooms depending on what we’re trying to grow for class materials or research purposes,” Zlesak said.

This year, there are new changes that were added to the different rooms of the Greenhouse. Some of these changes include updated cabinets in the head house and the Greenhouse becoming part of a steam line and condensate return line replacement. Refurbished tech units were also added in August to improve teaching. Even with the new changes this year, there is still hope for more in the future.

“We are trying to get a few more teaching improvements for the classroom and outdoor teaching area, but as always, money is tight,” Waletzko said.

With the numerous rooms and different types of plants in the Greenhouse, it is necessary to have hands on staff. As of now, there are five work-study students who help maintain the teaching collection and other teaching laboratories.

“With some of the cut backs in work study and financial aid over the years, the students that work in the Greenhouse is less than it used to be, unfortunately. We are a little short staffed,” Zlesak said.

One of the students that work in the Greenhouse with the work-study program is Amy Kiehne, a horticulture major.

“I help with little maintenance projects like checking our system or cleaning and organizing a lot of stuff. I water the plants on the weekends and do a lot of grooming and maintenance to the plants. It is a lot of work to keep all the plants in good shape,” Kiehne said.

The work-study students and professors are working hard to keep the Greenhouse running smoothly, and they welcome both students and community members to check it out.

“The Greenhouse is a great resource and I encourage students from all majors, especially in the winter months when you need a little life around you, to please come to the Greenhouse and look at the collection,” Zlesak said. “We are very thankful for this resource, and our hope is to update the Greenhouse with even more new technology.”