Student Spotlight: Sage Stowell

Sage Stowell is a graduate student at UW in the Masters of Environmental Horticulture program. Much of her coursework takes place in UW Botanic Gardens facilities at the Center for Urban Horticulture, where she enjoys the beautiful space while learning. She grew up in the mountains outside of Nederland, Colorado, and completed a BA in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana.

Sage is the teaching assistant for a year-long Restoration Ecology Capstone class that takes place at the Center. As part of this class, students chose a site from local parks around Seattle, then they are divided into teams and work with their team to restore the ecological functions of the site over the course of an academic year. It is a very hands-on course that prepares students for the professional field of restoration.

Sage is a certified natural science illustrator and likes drawing and painting mountain landscapes and plants. (You can join her for “Keeping a Field Journal: Tools, Techniques, and Tips” on March 5.) She also enjoys spending time outdoors skiing, rafting, climbing, and backpacking. She works seasonally for the National Park Service doing ecological research, which gives her the chance to botanize and backpack at the same time!

Sage appreciates that the UW Botanic Gardens space gives her a little slice of the wild in the city. She has seen coyotes and bald eagles, and it helps remind her that even though she lives in a city, there are still untamed aspects of nature if you find the right places to sit and watch.

Sage’s favorite plant is the arctic gentian (Gentiana algida) that grows at high elevations in the Rockies. They have very interesting physiological responses to thunderstorms; they close their corollas when they sense temperature and pressure changes from approaching storms to prevent pollen loss. She first saw these plants when she was working as a wilderness ranger near Yellowstone National Park as a college student.

In July and August, Sage enjoys fresh tomatoes that she grows in the garden in her front yard!