Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Janice Haldeman was presented with the 2012 South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) Education Conservationist Award Feb. 1 at a banquet in West Columbia.
Nominated for the award by Eva Pratt, a member of the Erskine College Class of 1962, Haldeman said learning that she had been selected “was a great surprise, meaning a good one and a big one!”
In her nomination letter, Pratt described some of Haldeman’s activities at Erskine and in the larger community and noted, “To follow her throughout the year is to be made aware of the botanical diversity of the roadsides of South Carolina.”
The SCWF Conservation Awards Program is “designed to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in the conservation of South Carolina’s natural resources and in the preservation and enhancement of the quality of our environment,” according to the organization’s website, and a recipient of the Education Conservationist Award “should have accomplished and demonstrated effective educational methods directed toward conservation at any level of the educational process.”
Haldeman joined the Erskine College faculty in 1967, and is a member of the South Carolina Native Plant Society and the South Carolina Invasive Plants Council as well as a leader in the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).
She was cited by SCWF for her work as a speaker at forums and workshops; for her “discourses on medicinal and edible properties of common plants…distributed online”; for her “pioneering efforts to engage NABT university faculty with PreK-12 students and teachers”; and for her personal mentoring of young students in biological research, “a number of whom have won regional, state and national awards.”
“Erskine has provided so many opportunities for me through the years, beginning with recruiting me for the Biology Department and then encouraging me and permitting me to work full-time while commuting to Clemson to complete a doctoral program,” she recalled.
“Since retirement I’ve been able to teach part-time, and have access to our science department resources, labs, and greenhouse. This has given me a chance to make my own schedule and to teach favorite plant courses, such as Field Botany and Medicinal Botany,” she said.
Pratt, who with her husband and classmate Dr. Samuel B. Pratt donated the land for the Pressly Family Heritage Garden, praised the longtime professor’s work in establishing and maintaining the garden, located across from Erskine’s science center: “Underneath impressive trees, it was a tangle of privet, but Dr. Haldeman’s unceasing work has turned it into a garden with a particular emphasis on native plants.”
“I’ve especially enjoyed the opportunity to partner with many students, alumni, and friends in developing the gift of property from Sam and Eva Pratt into our Pressly Family Heritage Garden,” Haldeman said.
For the past four summers, with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Naoma Nelsen, she has directed a day camp for children centered around the Pressly Garden, and this work, which Haldeman calls “a treat,” was also recognized in Pratt’s nomination letter.
It was Nelsen, Haldeman points out, who conceived the idea for the camp and named it “Discovery Garden,” shortened to “DIG” on tee shirts worn by campers.
Haldeman’s role in Erskine’s BioOutreach program with Professor of Biology Dr. Mary Lang Edwards, conducting “hands-on sessions for hundreds of elementary students” was also highlighted in Pratt’s nomination letter.
Working with other members of the Erskine community, Haldeman has brought to the campus such luminaries as Rudi Mancke, Patrick McMillan, Janisse Ray, and others “who elevate the enthusiasm of her students,” Pratt writes. She has long served as an energetic sponsor for the biological honor society Beta Beta Beta.
Whether in the classroom, the lab, or in the garden, “To meet Dr. Haldeman at Erskine,” Pratt concludes, “is often to meet the bright, committed students who work with her.”
Officially retired, Haldeman, known as “Miss Jan” to generations of children in Due West and beyond, continues the teaching she enjoys, with a few other activities thrown in. She and her husband Richard Haldeman, who served as public relations director at Erskine for many years, are active in their church, in the Mental Health Association, in the Due West Lions Club, and in other charitable organizations.
She says her most recent effort associated with Erskine’s Pressly Garden, Discovery Garden, and the Due West community has been the writing of grants.
“We have received National Heritage Corridor Grants for the Pressly Garden, Josephine Moffatt Stevenson Trust grants for the Tree Walk, the Pressly Garden Pond, and Discovery Garden, and most recently a Palmetto Pride Grant of 16 trees for the Town of Due West.”