Home-grown botanist

By Audrey Davis, News Editor

Drew Zubek likes plants. It’s a well-known fact amongst his friends and everyone else who lives in his corridor.

“Clearly,” he says, gesturing to the exotic plants decorating every surface on his half of the room.

His side is a jungle of sorts. Green plants of all shapes and sizes are displayed neatly on the window sill, on the floor and on the shelving unit he added that stretches from floor to ceiling.  

To those in his hall, he is “Drew the Botanist.”

“That’s what my whole corridor calls me,” he says. “That’s just my nickname. Out there on the wall it asks, ‘What are you thankful for?’ and they wrote, ‘Drew the Botanist.’”

A grin stretches across his face.  

“Most people don’t really understand it, but then they see my room and think it’s super cool.”

Drew’s plants all seem to be thriving in the warm confines of his dorm room.

“Well, except this guy.”

He points to what looks like a stick planted in dirt.

“Yeah, that’s a cashew tree. It’s supposed to be, anyway. He’s not doing too hot. It’s kinda sad.”

The rest of the plants seem to be much better off. He has a coffee tree and a cactus and a ginkgo tree — just to name a few.

In the future, Drew dreams of growing his own hops and opening a brewery.

“It doesn’t even have to be a huge beer company, just something more fun to play around with the different flavors,” he says. “If that works out, and I have money, I would like to travel around and study plants all over the world.”

Drew has already been all over the world. Growing up, his parents loved to travel and explore different foods and beers and alcohol.

He has learned that the difference between America and the rest of the world is pretty crazy.

“We went to Turkey and it was kind of scary, but at the same time it was amazing,” Drew says. “They call it the Holy Land, and it’s just a whole different experience. I’m not religious at all, but when you go up there, you turn religious while you’re there.”

Drew has collected stories from his travels around the world. When he was nine, he was trapped in a bank with his family by armed guards with AK-47s near Panama, and on his fifteenth birthday, he climbed the Acropolis of Athens, and he’s also been dog sledding on a glacier in Alaska.

“Plus, I got to look at the plants up there, so that made me super happy, but no one else liked it.”

That’s one thing Drew deals with a lot: he’s significantly more excited about plants than everyone else he knows.

“We always go to Steak Night at Steinkeller’s on Wednesdays,” he says, “And the one day I came in and said, ‘Guys! My aloe plant is flowering!’ and they were all just like, ‘Yeah. Cool. Awesome, bud.’ And I was like, ‘No! No! That’s super cool! This barely ever happens!’”

Drew knows no one else thinks about plants all the time.

“But I definitely do. Plants are my thing.”