CONWAY, Ark. (October 8, 2013) – Ten Hendrix botany students recently participated
in the first Hendrix-in-India program.
The student participants included:
- Adam Bigott '14
- Meaghan Epperson '15
- Ariana Fabian '14
- Marley Halter '15
- Paige Johnson '15
- Paul Kreitz '16
- Charlotte Marchioni '16
- Lauren Nelson '14
- Tammi Ragan '15
- James Williams '14
Led by Hendrix biology professor Dr. Ann Willyard, students spent 21 days this
summer traveling through a spectacular region of the southern Indian state of Kerala.
Although Kerala is listed by National Geographic as a "must see" destination,
few Americans visit this ancient spice capitol of the world.
Along with Kelly Amsberry, a botanist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture,
students explored study sites ranging from the Arabian Sea coast, through the tea
plantations and Cardamom Hills, to rain forests at 2000-meter elevation in the Western
"Studying plants where they grow is incredibly useful for biology students, especially
in the richly diverse Tropics," said Willyard. "Kerala offers the advantage that
we can also explore the history and present-day agricultural practices of some of
the important crops that changed the world: tea, spices, and medicinal plants."
Dr. Willyard's Tropical Field Botany (BIOL 108) course in the summer 2013 session
also gave students the opportunity to learn about homestead gardening and Ayurvedic
medicinal plants. Along the way, Hendrix students held cultural exchanges with Keralan
college students, learned a few traditional dance steps, and had a chance to practice
yoga and to ride an elephant.
"Plants are so incredibly important. I am now fascinated with how things are
made and what raw ingredients they require," said Nelson, a sociology and anthropology
major. "Going through fields of tea, cane sugar and rubber and then to the factory
for processing illuminated the course of production and opened my eyes to how many
finished products I just accepted as is without questioning their history or ingredients."
"It is easy to separate the natural world from a finished product but unsustainable
to miss the connection," she added. "I have started to check labels like mad but
am disappointed that the original location of the raw ingredients is often kept
secret. I want to go back to seeing my food grown before my eyes!"
Dr. Willyard was invited to present seminars on her research as a visiting scientist
at St. Teresa's College in Ernakulam and at BCM College in Kottayam. Amsberry also
presented a seminar at BCM College on her conservation work with rare plants in
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts
and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of
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That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton
Review's The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's
Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated
with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit