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
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.