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The Power of Plant Life: Beauty and science come together in the Caine Conservatory

Imagine walking into a rainforest just up the street from where you live or feel the heat of an arid desert on your face in the middle of December. These scenarios are possible for High Point University students.

The Caine Conservatory, one of the newest facilities along HPU’s Innovation Corridor, offers students a special space to conduct research, enjoy a meal at the Butterfly Café and be inspired by beautiful plant life.

“The conservatory provides the campus family a year-round space to interact with nature, whether walking through a tropical rainforest or exploring plants from the dry desert,” says Jason Lattier, director of the Caine Conservatory. “It’s an oasis on campus that also serves as a space for hands-on education.”

The Caine Conservatory contributes to the extraordinary education and inspiring environment HPU provides to students. The space provides a living laboratory for classes in the sciences to teach topics related to biogeography, comparative anatomy, horticulture and more. Classes from the arts also use the space for sketching and even dance performances.

“It’s an oasis on campus that also serves as a space for hands-on education.”
-Jason Lattier, Director of the Caine Conservatory

“Conservatories by nature are inspiring environments,” explains Lattier. “The ability to be transported to a rainforest or high desert in the middle of a North Carolina winter helps inspire students to think more globally about our place in nature and our need to be good stewards of the natural world.”

For Class of 2022 student Trinity Erjo, from Bristow, Virginia, the conservatory represents a bright future.

Orchids And Opportunity

Screen Shot 2022 02 17 at 3.46.47 PMErjo is assistant assistant research as a lab for the Department of Biology and has seen the positivity the conservatory brings to students through its ability to provide educational experiences and tranquility. She’s had the opportunity to maintain a collection of Cranefly Orchids for monitoring and experimentation within the orchid bay of the conservatory.

“The conservatory has had an amazingly positive impact on me,” says Erjo. “As a student, it is simply a beautiful place to engage with a variety of plants. As a research student, it is the perfect place to keep plants that we’re studying. It helps reduce variables and makes the results of our experiments replicable and reputable.”

This research is beneficial to Erjo’s future in the sciences and will help her stand out from her peers.

“While I may be a neuroscience major, research is still an important aspect of my life,” she says. “The conservatory allows me to conduct research in a professional environment that simulates how high-level research is done. I get amazing and accurate future research experience.”

“The conservatory allows me to conduct research in a professional environment that simulates how high-level research is done. I get amazing and accurate future research experience.”-Trinity Erjo, ’22, Neuroscience Major from Bristow, Virginia

The innovation found in the Caine Conservatory also reflects the university’s commitment to perseverance, adaptability and a growth mindset.

“Gardens and conservatories are always a work in progress and require constant maintenance,” says Lattier. “They only survive with an active core of skilled staff, volunteers and student interns. Though it has faced its own challenges, the students’ passion for the conservatory has kept us moving forward.

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