Like Our Lichen Logo? There’s a meaning behind it . . .

The lichen in our logo, drawn by Merritt student Mary Ann King, is the mottled tube lichen, Hypogymnia inactiva. But why choose a lichen as our ambassador when a pretty flower or cute animal would be the obvious choice? Two reasons:

1) That is actually two (or more) organisms in one. Lichens are symbiotic organisms consisting of a fungus and alga (or sometimes a fungus and bacteria) living together. This represents the interdepartmental nature of the NHS program, a collaboration between the departments of Biology, Environmental Management and Technology, and Landscape Horticulture.

2) It is an underrepresented and underappreciated organism, symbolic of the people of color who have historically been underrepresented in environmental science but who are now are at the program’s core.

And why the slogan “Be Curious” underneath? If you Google the definition of “curious,” the first meaning that pops up is: “Eager to learn or know something,” a quality we prize in all of our students. But it’s the second meaning that we like even better: “Strange; unusual.” Not only does that apply to the lichen itself, but it also speaks to our desire for students to be intellectual risk takers and to embrace thinking different. Our advice to students is echoed in the advice that newspaper editor Gene Roberts once gave his writers: “Zig when everyone else zags.”