Bryan Randall Graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Horticulture with an emphasis in Production. For most of his time here he worked as the Deciduous and Evergreen Identification tutor and teachers assistant, also competing at PLANET Student Career Days in identification events. He since has moved on to Missouri where he is working with grass species. Bryan had to say this about his time spent here and his decision to go to graduate school:
One of the most important signs of having learned something thoroughly is an enthusiasm to share it with someone else. This principle has been one of the driving forces that has lead me to seek an advanced degree. While at BYU-Idaho I pursued several internships to work as a cooperative extension agent. This included working for the University of California Cooperative Extension, Utah State University Cooperative extension, and also job shadowing several other extension agents. I was passionate about what I learned, and felt that this was an ideal career to continue to push me to learn and help others build their talents in horticulture and other related fields. A master’s degree is required in most states to be an extension agent. Once I knew that this was what I wanted to do I completely rearrange my schedule, to take the necessary chemistry, math, and statistic classes that I needed to be considered a worthy applicant for graduate school. My wife thought I was nuts! While laboring through it all I thought I was too. However, it turned out being one of the best investments that I have ever made in my education. I have come to understand things in ways that would not have been possible had I not taken those classes. I also became aware of the fact that I could get my entire masters paid for by an assistantship, which would not only pay for my degree, but also provide a reasonable stipend for my family and I to live on.
I have been at the University of Missouri, Department of Plant Science for just under a year and have one to go (it goes by quick)! The university is located in Columbia, which is a nice town right in the middle of the state (about two hours from Kansas City to the west and St. Louis to the east). We have really enjoyed the Midwest so far. It has really never gotten too hot, and the winters are much shorter (though not warmer) than Rexburg. My research is centered on Miscanthus x giganteus, which is a twelve foot tall C4 perennial grass that has a lot of potential as a cellulosic biofuel feedstock. My thesis includes two main objectives: (1) determine nitrogen fertilizer rates for M. x giganteus when grown in degraded claypan soils and (2) see if there is a relationship between M. x giganteus rhizome quality and establishment rates when grown in claypan soils. Research takes a lot of time and thought to maximize resources in order to solve the most important and relevant questions. When I first arrived, it took me awhile to get a grasp on what had already been done in my field and what I needed to do. It was rewarding to identify important questions that needed answering and then set up parameters in my research to accomplish those objectives. It has been a great learning experience and has caused me to be a more critical thinker.
Classes also make up a huge portion of a graduates' experience. Last semester I took a plant pathology class, which was extremely enlightening. This semester I am taking a crop physiology and soil microbiology class. I love the crop physiology class, which is similar in a lot of ways to Brother Dewey’s plant culture class. I can’t say that classes are anymore difficult than what I experienced at BYU-Idaho. There is a different feel between attending a state university, such as Mizzou, and BYU-Idaho. In all honesty, I miss BYU-Idaho but I am still grateful for the opportunity to be here. They have a great plant science program that I would invite anyone to look into who is considering going to graduate school.
A big shift that I have had to make as a graduate student is focusing less time and energy on course work and more on research. My advisor, Dr. Newell Kitchen and others are not really concerned about what kind of grades I get in my classes, as those things always come second to research. Last week I missed class several times because things are already warming up here, that means it’s time for soil sampling and setting up my field plots. My advisor is an extremely nice guy. He is actually a member of the church and has had, in the past, several grad students from BYU Provo. I really like the collaborative relationship that I have with him. Education is often viewed as a transfer of information from the professor downward to the student with no transfer occurring in the opposite direction. I feel that my advisor expects a lot, inspires me to learn and figure it out for myself, and then to teach him when I have got it figured out; a hard but effective pattern for learning.
To conclude, I would say that I could not be happier to be here. I have a lot of good paying career opportunities available to me (whether I decide to do extension or not) when I leave. It's hard to invest too much into education. My first few years at BYU-Idaho I had no intentions on going to graduate school (and in all honesty, did not think I would ever get accepted) but I had some great teachers that inspired me which helped me work hard to get here.
Here Is a packet of Bryan's Research
The 27th Annual Flower and Bridal Show went off as a hit. This year we had a never been done before Fashion Show. The Fashion show was a way to incorporate the student designs of not only clothing but high end floral work made to look like clothing. This years theme was days of creation, so as you walked through you spent time in each day: Light & Dark, Water & Land, Fruit & Vegetation, Sun-Moon-Stars, Fish & Fowl, and Man. Here is a slideshow that takes you on a tour through the show.
Every plant has its place in the garden don’t get me wrong, but some years you just need a fresh new look but your just too scared to make the change; in-walks Calibrachoa. Petunias offer a large variety of colors, spread out fast, and they look beautiful all year long. Well Calibrachoas, also called Superbells or Million bells, are here to shake things up. Not only do they have colors that range from light yellow to a deep purple but they can do anything petunias can while being even more heat tolerant. Calibrachoas need well drained soil because they don’t like to stay wet, and they love to bask in the sun. Like petunias in mid-Summer you will want to give it a trim to keep its vigorous branching occurring. They are our best container plant, they spill out of their pot with tremendous grace. They self-clean their blossoms so that means no dead heading and less work for us. They are a great companion plant for geraniums, roses, and even evergreen shrubs. When your planning this year’s garden to outdo your neighbors, make sure Calibrachoa makes it on the list.
For the last fifteen years our department has sent students to PLANET student Career days. This is a great opportunity for students not only to network with over 85 different companies in the landscape industry, but to show them what they can do as they graduate. There were 65 different schools from all over the nation totaling over 850 students. Students get a chance to show what they have learned in classes at almost 30 different events. Some of these events include Arboriculture techniques, business management, construction cost estimating, irrigation troubleshooting, and more. They even include identification events like interior plant, annual & perennial, and turf & turf pest. Most of these students have been practicing all year to show companies the skills they have honed. We had several students being handpicked by companies to come work for them. We have received 1st place multiply times; which tells the rest of the nation just how hard our faculty work to maintain such a great curriculum, and how hard our students work to not only learn the knowledge put before them but to apply it as well. This year we placed 2nd place out of 65 schools. We brought with us 17 students participating in 26 events. When you see them walking around congratulate them on a job well done. If you would like to review the scores click here.
AEF Scholarship winners – Dan Quakenbush, Trevor Stevens
2nd Place in 3D Exterior Landscape Design – Ali Strate 84.50
2nd Place in Computer Aided Landscape Design – Garret Slezak 87.00
3rd Place in Exterior Landscape Design – Leanne Thompson 87.00
1st Place in Irrigation Troubleshooting – Dan Quakenbush and Cameron Rutter 200.00
1st Place in Maintenance Cost Estimating – Trevor Stevens 100.00
3rd Place in Wood Construction – Trevor Stevens and Garret Slezak 176.00
3rd Place in Irrigation Design – Cameron Rutter 86.00
3rd Place in Leadership Skills – Garret Slezak 92.33
1st Place in Tractor Loader Backhoe Operation – Eric Anderson 99.00
Students & Faculty had a lot of fun celebrating their 2nd place win!
Pierson Willhite, a senior studying Horticulture Production interned with Perennial Favorites, located in Layton, Utah. Perennial Favorites grows and sells annuals, natives, ornamental grasses, shrubs, edible plants, and, yeah you guessed it perennials. Pierson stayed with his parents, who live only an hour away, during his internship. Pierson said this was well worth it since his wife was pregnant with their third child. She could be comfortable and she could have help with the other kids. Pierson didn't quite have a day to day routine which goes along with many careers in our industry; your day depends on the season. In the beginning of the season, Pierson planted quite a few cuttings, mums, Shasta daisies, and lavender, among other species. To prepare for spring bedding plant sales Pierson also transplanted plug trays into 4” pots. He was also given the opportunity to work with Perennial Favorites managers to learn how to mix fertilizer and apply PGR’s, fungicides, and pesticides. He also learned not only how to identify a plant by its flower but by leaves as well, due to pulling orders for shipments. Pierson’s favorite task was watering. “In their propagation greenhouse there were plants that needed daily watering and I loved taking an hour or two showering the plants in the morning. The sun would just be warming everything up and the greenhouse was always high in humidity. It felt like a tropical paradise.” During the busiest time of the season work hours were 7 am-5 pm and sometimes employees stayed till 9 pm pulling orders for the next day. Once the season died down, work hours changed to 8 am-5 pm. Pierson said the skill he learned the most was Plant Identification. “Plant I.D. is very important in this industry. If you can't I.D your plants you can't grow them properly or know what they need. It’s just as important to horticulture as knowing what the parts of the body are to a doctor. You can't heal a patient without knowing the functions of that specimen.” Perennial Favorites is a great internship and Pierson offered some advice if you are preparing for your internship, “Be willing to work hard, learn on the job, take responsibility, offer suggestions, and take advice.”
Aaron Parson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in design/build/maintain
Aaron Parson, a graduate of BYU-I Horticulture, found his way to Stonington, Connecticut where he works at a landscape architecture firm called Cummin Associates, Inc. After graduating in 2005 he went on to attend University of Idaho to attain his second bachelor’s and a master’s in Landscape Architecture. Nearing the end of his master’s program Aaron applied to 20 different firms he was interested in. It boiled down to two different firms who flew him out for an interview with one offering him the job. After gaining some experience designing communities and resorts, he switched gears and started working for a different company with a bigger variety of design services that included parks, residential, businesses, and park trails. Aaron had heard that Cummin Associates, Inc. was looking for a landscape architect and did some research on the company; Aaron was thoroughly impressed. Cummin Associates specializes in estate properties. Out of 150 portfolios Aaron was handpicked and flown out to interview. Needless to say Aaron got the job! Aaron designs everything from outdoor living spaces to swimming pools right down to custom iron and bronze handrails, gates, and hinges. “I design everything from what plant materials to plant all the way to what color of grout to use between paving stones.” There is quite a bit of communication daily between him and the landscape contractors, stone masons, general contractors, architects, nurseries, outdoor lighting techs, and the representatives of the owners to make sure everything goes smoothly and stays on task. He also shows up to the site to watch progress and offer suggestions, “I believe there are many solutions to every problem and when you learn to work together, the end project will always be the best.” One of the things that has an effect on your job is the atmosphere and work environment, and they are so different for everyone “There is so much that I love about my job and work environment. Our office is about 100 yards from the ocean so I get to see the ocean every morning and evening. During summer months, I come to work in sandals, shorts, and T-shirt. My co-workers are great to work with - very talented and good people. My boss Peter Cummin is from England and is an amazing designer. He has worked his whole life very honestly and people love him for it. My work environment is positive and friendly. The work we perform is in a league of its own. Our attention to detail is one of a kind.[…] I've done projects all over Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, and England. Before coming to Cummin Associates, I used to tell people I designed high-end residential. It is no comparison to what we do now.”
Here is some advice Aaron offers to students in the program:
If you are close to Graduation:
· Work hard and pray hard. I have been blessed to work where I am specifically because the Lord wanted us here. I really don't think I am more talented than the next person. The Church needs to grow out here and that's why I think we were placed here in Connecticut.
· Seek the Lord first and He will bless you.
· Put together a good portfolio. Only show your best projects. Apply to every job that is hiring even if you may not want to work at that particular company. The truth is you need to get a job to support a family and it may not be as glamorous as you have dreamed yet, but you have to start somewhere. Let your classmates, teachers, friends, neighbors give you a critique on your portfolio - get as many eyes on it as you can so you can get feedback.
· Don't expect to get your dream job with dream pay right out of college - it may take a while.
· By this point, I would expect students who are graduating to already have experienced an internship, real life work, and other experiences that show their interest in what they want to do for their life's work.
If you are just starting the Program:
· BYU-I is the best horticulture program in the nation. One of its strengths are the opportunities professors provide to get involved physically with what they are designing. Get your hands dirty and become physically involved with your design material. Learn how to lay pavers, lay stone, build walls, plant trees and shrubs, design and install irrigation systems, learn what it takes to maintain landscapes. The best designers are the ones who understand the material - they know what works and what doesn't
· Pay attention in class - ask your teachers many questions and pay attention to the answers
· Work hard on your assignments - you've got to spend more time outside of class working and learning than during class
· Keep good notes and preserve them for the future - you will refer to them again and again
· Spend the summer working at a landscaping firm - DON'T go working for a Pest Control or Security company!!!
· Do your own case studies on projects and companies you admire - get on the phone (don't text or email) and talk to professionals and ask them what they are looking for in new hires - then, work your guts out to acquire those attributes.
· Practice designing by hand every class assignment you are given. Once you figure out things by hand, move to the computer if needed
· In my opinion, students need to learn Auto CAD. Dynascape is a good program but limited in so many ways. In the big picture, most of the design world has never heard of Dynascape. Talk to the teachers about getting CAD and start designing with it. I was at a big disadvantage when I graduated because I did not know CAD
· Other programs to learn are Photoshop and InDesign.
· Look at and buy a lot of books with photos of good design - use them as precedent images to inspire design - you can learn a lot from those who have gone before
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.