Floral students ended the semester with a bang; one week in southern California. Students made connections with top executives and owners of major companies in the florist industry. Students also toured famous gardens to learn the culture of the surrounding area. “I really understand why he went there” said Elizabeth Elisalde, a senior studying floral design. Elizabeth really loved seeing the trees and flowers along with all the industry stops. Among the many stops was B & H, Elizabeth said “they were so organized… and they let us get hands on with their flowers.” These students spent all winter semester learning advanced skills in floral design and event planning. They got to execute those skills in one of the biggest events in our department; the Annual Flower and Bridal show. As the semester came to a close they had the chance to meet the people in charge of producing the flowers they designed with. “We try to see things that affect what we do [as florists].” Said Ben Romney; the professor that facilitates the floral classes and trips. On the trip they try to see Las Vegas; specifically the Mirage and Bellagio hotels. We have had many interns in Las Vegas and it's a hot spot for designers in our industry. The trip is catered around seeing the L.A. Flower market; it’s such a diverse range of plant material and shows the students the potential they have as designers in our industry. Here are a few pictures from the trip:
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
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!
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
Valerie Schulthess graduated over a year ago. Since then She has found herself working as a secretary to Dr. Fred Petitt and Agricultural Sciences at the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Valerie talked about life after graduation and offers a few good tips on job searching.
Where do you work?
I work in Orlando, FL at the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in the Animals, Science and Environment line of business as a secretary for Agricultural Sciences and Dr. Fred Petitt.
How many jobs did you apply to?
Around five. A really important point is that almost all of them were internal. The jobs didn’t even exist, so these weren’t just postings I found online. They wanted to interview me for a need that they saw in their company for HR/PR related work because they knew who I was beforehand and that I was interested in that area of horticulture.
How did you decide which job to pursue and accept?
When applying for jobs, I didn’t limit myself. If I was remotely interested, I pursued it since it’s better to have more options than none. As I mentioned earlier, most of the jobs I applied for were only available to me and maybe a few others because of the relationships I’d established with company representatives during Horticulture field trips (Spring Trials, PLANET and industry trips to southern California and Washington).
The job I decided to accept was in the same department that I did one of my internships in. I’ll be honest: it wasn’t my very first choice. All my other options fell through not because the companies didn’t want me, but rather because someone decided they didn’t want to retire, the company wasn’t ready at the time I wanted a job, etc. Now that I look back on my decision, which was made a lot by prayer and faith, it fits. Had I only applied to the top few jobs I was interested in, I would have been jobless.
What are your normal daily tasks?
I assist with the daily operations for the Agricultural Sciences team and Fred who oversees Agricultural Sciences, Water Sciences, and The Seas Animal Care & Research. Some of my duties include internship recruiting and processing applications, managing the department’s budget and purchasing needs, processing many different types of HR related requests for all three departments, etc.
What is it about the environment/job that you love?
I love taking care of people, and I am constantly doing that in my role. It’s kind of a full-circle moment as I now have the opportunity to give back to the people that provided me with such a great internship during my college years.
Although I am in a secretary role, I’m encouraged to branch out and am given many opportunities to expand my horizons and become involved in parts of the industry that I’m interested in. My background allows me to be not just a secretary. I can do so much more with my background and am grateful to a boss and department that support me in what I choose to pursue.
What advice do you have for students getting close to graduation?
NETWORK. You should be doing this early on in your schooling. Go on every single horticulture trip you can, and don’t be that person that stands in the back and doesn’t ask questions. Make relationships with the representatives of the company, and that includes correspondence after you meet them. One of the best ways to establish a relationship is to ask for career advice and have them talk about their job instead of begging for a job after graduating.
Some students feel insecure about using the information they have learned, do you have any advice about overcoming that fear and how they can apply that to practical skills?
The more you practice it, the more confident you’ll be. Do internships, get out of dodge, and if you can’t get out of dodge, get a job with Horticulture at school. Also talking to other fellow graduates and/or other people involved in the industry can set your mind at ease as you learn what it was like for them when they started their careers.
Monika Hawker, a recent floral design graduate, did her internship at Kalaheo Flowers and Gardens in Kalaheo, HI. Every day she woke up and began working on the daily orders which consisted of different client accounts at some of the hotels and resorts in Poipu, which is a tourist area of the island. Kalaheo Flowers and Gardens makes floral designs for every new guest that comes to the hotel Koa Kea each day, and they would also do lobby pieces for a few different hotels on top of any other orders that they received; although they mainly focused on the hotels and resorts. Some of Monika's time was spent working on the farm as well. The farm consisted of 15 acres of different tropical flowers, Norfolk pines (which they sell during Christmas), Macadamia nut trees, pineapples, and other assorted fruit trees. During the day, and throughout the mornings, Monika would help harvest flowers, greens, and any other products that they needed for that day. Every Tuesday an employee came and would do a giant harvest that would help them out greatly for the week so they didn't have to go out and get massive amounts of flowers, only just a few as they ran out during the day. While she was there she lived with her boss and their family. “They are an amazing family!” Monika said she learned so much while she was there "especially since at BYU-I we don't get the opportunity very often to work with tropical species. I would say some of the best things that I took from my internship were first, a great cultural experience. I know Kauai is not foreign by any means, but the family I worked for is mainly Japanese, and the island itself has a very distinct culture. It was so fun to get more exposure to different cultural aspects of things. Second, I learned how to work with tropical flowers which does give me an edge when looking for a job because you have been taught how to work with not only mainland flowers, but tropical species as well. Third, I really learned how a floral business ran. There were times when I would be at the shop, in town, or up at the farm working by myself. It gave me a better sense of responsibility and knowledge about what the ups and downs to run a floral business are and how to handle them. Overall it was an amazing experience that I would love to go back and do again sometime! Hopefully sooner than later! For anyone in the future who gets the opportunity to work here my only advice would be to be prepared to work hard, get a little dirty and have a blast!" She said that this internship she did “is perfect for those who don't mind working hard and big cockroaches!” Monika wishes the best of luck to all students on any of their internships.
AmericanHort was officially established on the first day of this year. Their mission is to “unite, promote, and advance our industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research.” They are the result of the merging of the Association of Horticultural Professionals (OFA) and the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) voting in an almost unanimous decision. They have been working for the last two years to consolidate these organizations. So what does this mean for you? AmericanHort has kept the “OFA” scholarship which is available to students. This scholarship includes a one year student membership, the student short course fee, and room and board to attend the short course in Columbus, Ohio in late July. Most of all, this means a greater voice in government issues, one official industry standard, and a broader reach for helpful information. This
exemplifies their vision “to be the leading and unifying organization for the horticulture industry in order to cultivate successful businesses, and for our industry to enhance lives through the benefits of plants.” The benefits of membership include free education resources, access to free webinars, the Garden University, and many discounts on events, magazines, rental cars, shipping, and more. Their website is up and running beautifully and we encourage you to check it out and see the great information they have available.
Picture Perfect Construction has been hard at work for the last 20 years in the greater Los Angeles, CA area. They offer design, maintenance, and construction services, focusing on high-end residential and commercial properties in area like Bel Air and Hollywood. Picture Perfect Construction strives to keep all parts of the project within their company to keep accountability of the whole project on them. They pride themselves on working with the customer through the entire project to make sure the customer receives exactly what they envisioned. Currently we have two alumni at Picture Perfect Construction, John Phelan, owner and operator, as well as Jonathan Jackson the maintenance manager. John and
Jonathan would be a great people to network with and talk to about an internship or even a career with Picture Perfect Construction. To see some of the many beautiful properties they have designed here is their website.
Matt Arrington, a recent graduate in Production Horticulture, is now working towards his masters degree at Oregon State University. He has been working at the OSU extension in Hood River, OR for almost a year researching vegetative growth control through management practices. There are three trial plots in the Mt Hood and Mt Adams area where Matt collects data on pear trees between one and three years old. Matt is testing shoot growth, photosynthetic efficiency, and water potential by cutting one side or two sides of the root ball. Matt says “Root pruning has been done in Europe for years, but there isn't very much research backing up the practice.” This project will hopefully lead to data connecting root pruning to decreasing vigor in young trees and higher yield during harvest.
Kari Jo is well known in the department for her excitement and her wonderful care-free attitude. She recently came back from her internship at The Marjorie McNeely conservatory in St. Paul, MN. She stayed in an accommodating family’s home. On an average day Kari Jo would arrive to at the conservatory to start work at 7:00 am. She had only three hours to water, prune, Transplant, and anything else in the Public area of the gardens before they were open to the public. The remainder of the day was spent watering plant material in greenhouses, seeding, taking inventory, and ordering. Her Favorite part of the job was working with a renowned Japanese garden specialist, John Powell. Powell was there consulting with the conservatory on a renovation of their Japanese garden. Kari Jo worked very close with Powell to construct a particular fence that only she was trusted to build. Kari Jo said the skill she learned the most on her internship was to be flexible. With so many gardens and so many people in charge you need to learn to adapt to how each person wants their area to look. Her main advice for all the students preparing to get an internship is to make sure to “be on time and be ready to get dirty.” So if you see Kari Jo in the halls feel free to ask her about her internship and any other questions you might have.
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.