Looking back it’s hard to believe but when I was younger I hated doing the gardening project in 4-H and couldn’t grow anything. Anything; I killed basil, several times. Anyone who has grown herbs knows that basil is really easy to grow. It was ironic that the only 4-H scholarship I received when I graduated from high school was the plant science scholarship, not the sheep scholarship.
I started college at UT Martin with the goal in mind of majoring in agricultural communications with an emphasis in livestock production. It was with resignation that I took the required Intro to Plant and Soil Science class which every agricultural major learned to love (or hate depending on your grade). I did rather well in the class and discovered that I enjoyed plants. At the end of our class our teacher took us on a field trip to the campus’ greenhouses. In a passing comment he mentioned that they hire student workers in the greenhouses.
The next semester I got a job working in the Grounds Department greenhouses. It was an interesting situation because there was a change in management while I was there and the student workers were really just left to do their own thing. I learned early on that landscaping and lawn maintenance was really not my thing. But I loved working in the greenhouse. Once I learned the ropes I spent hours every week pulling weeds from benches and watering plants. Looking back I know that I didn’t know what I was doing but I can say for sure that those benches have never been cleaner of weeds and the floors better swept. Even washing pots, a tedious and endless job, especially in the winter months, was not too much of a chore.
The next semester I transferred over the other greenhouse, just across the road. This greenhouse was part of the Plant and Soil Science department and used for research and teaching. Under the direction of my advisor and supervisor, Dr. Totten, I learned more about how to work and manage a greenhouse. I was taught not only what to do but why and how to do things. The main plants in the greenhouse were pots of grass Dr. Totten used for his turfgrass classes. I really don’t like grass much but I kept those grass pots neatly mowed, fertilized and watered.
About this time I realized that I like working with plant much more than animals. Plants do not move, or make noise, or bite, or kick and you don’t feel quite so bad when they die. I was looking for every and any opportunity to learn more about growing plants and horticulture.
It was always my dream to study abroad so the opportunity to study production horticulture at Olds College in Olds, Alberta was perfect. At the time I did not know much about the program or the college but I was excited to get the opportunity to take classes not available to me at UT Martin.
I studied production horticulture at Olds from September to December 2010. I had classes in Soil Science ( I am not trained to use the American, Canadian and International Soil textural Triangle), Fall Greenhouse crops, Vegetable Production, and Floriculture. Olds College excels that having hand-on education in as close to real-life situations as possible. Everyday we worked with crops in huge greenhouses and arranged Christmas floral arrangements. I’m not sure I can explain or even realize the impact that my semester at Olds had on my education or career path but I decided then that horticulture, in whatever shape or form, was what I wanted to do with my life.
My future plans are to graduate in May 2012 from UT Martin with a Bachelor’s of Agricultural Science with an emphasis in communications and to plant a garden every summer. I am seriously considering getting my master’s degree in production horticulture or some other related field after I graduate.