Orchid Recovery Program
VIDEO: Each summer, Illinois College students carry out field research at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge involving orchids in south Florida including the rare Ghost Orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii. This research, under the direction of Lawrence Zettler, is funded primarily though the Naples Orchid Society. This video, filmed in 2015, documents our ongoing Ghost Orchid research in collaboration with Dr. Ernesto Mujica from Cuba. IC students continue to study Ghost Orchids in both south Florida and Cuba. The two IC students in the video (Shannon Skarha, Justin Mably) have since graduated, and have earned graduate degrees. The work presented in the video led to scientific paper published in an international journal, and both students were listed as co-authors. The paper can be accessed at: https://academic.oup.com/botlinnean/article/186/4/572/4921016
The Mission of the Orchid Recovery Program at Illinois College is to integrate undergraduate student learning with the conservation of the world’s rarest orchids. The Program seeks to instill in its students an appreciation for our planet’s natural resources, and provide the basic tools for lifelong learning, stewardship, and service.
We work closely with a variety of organizations, including the North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC). External funding for our students is provided by donations from regional orchid societies (Illinois Orchid Society, Prairie State Orchid Society) and grants/scholarships through the Naples Orchid Society, and Native Orchid Conference, Inc.
We grow our rare orchids from seed using fungi, and this process starts in the laboratory at Illinois College, housed in the Parker Science building. The lab is equipped with a sterile hood, microscopes, orchid library, computers, and personal desk space for two undergraduate students and a visiting scientist. Students also conduct research involving molecular techniques in the laboratory of Dr. Laura Corey. For samples of foreign origin, students work under close supervision in Parker Science's USDA Level II Quarantine Facility. Seedlings ready for release into natural habitats are transferred to the Parker Science greenhouse located on the roof of the building. Seedlings are then carefully packaged and transported as carry-on baggage by IC students and flown to distant points worldwide.