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!
If you are interested in participating in PLANET 2014, next year, please come to BENSON 160, Thursday, March 21st at 2pm for a celebratory ice cream party and re-cap meeting.
PLANET Student Career Days (SCD’s) is an annual capstone event for our BYU-Idaho Horticulture Department. 2012 marked the 36th year of the event and was hosted by Kansas State University. Our eighteen member team, practiced all semester long to place well in the competition. The competition is designed to bring students in close proximity to industry. Generous green industry companies both sponsor and judge the twenty-eight competitive events giving them an up close and personal look at future interns and employees. One student said that the event “felt like a family reunion of the green industry”. SCD’s allows students, industry and educational institutions to come together and aid in the common goal of raising professionalism in the green industry.
Our BYU-Idaho Horticulture Department is a “hands-on” department. When we talk about designing, building or maintaining landscapes in the classroom, we immediately apply the book learning in our five acre demonstration garden where we marry both the art and science of horticulture. This garden is also where we install, plant, build and climb in preparation for many of the competitive events.
PLANET SCD’s events are structured so that applied university programs, like ours, does well in the competitive events, but there is so much more to the event. Students continually talk about the scholarships they receive, the networking that takes place and the perspective they gain. Even though the economy is in a slump, each one of our students who sought employment or internships received opportunities from the best companies in the industry. PLANET SCD’s is truly a win-win for everyone involved. Thank you PLANET and Industry for making it all possible. Some representative student comments follow:
The decision to participate in PLANET Student Career Days was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my future career. It was a great opportunity to network with the cream of the crop in the green industry. On the trip I, was also able to develop great friendships that will last a lifetime. I would recommend PLANET Student Career Days to anyone who is serious about leading in their career path choice.
PLANET Student Career Days was a wonderful opportunity for me to network professionally, as well as to compete with students from schools across the nation.
PLANET Student Career Days was an excellent opportunity to meet with industry leaders and network with them. Throughout the career fair we learned how big and vibrant the green industry is and during the competitive events we expanded our skill level and stretched our abilities to achieve great things. For those interested in succeeding in the green industry I would highly recommend going to Student Career Days.
Lynda Wightman was such an enjoyable speaker for seminar today. As an employee for Hunter Industries and Chairman of the Board for the Irrigation Foundation, she had a lot to say about water conservation and efficient irrigation systems.
Lynda explained that water is the #1 most valuable resource in the world. She stated that the horticulture industry is very visible and, as part of that industry, we are stewards of this most precious resource. A large percentage of water is wasted due to lack of education to the public, improper installation of irrigation systems, as well as inefficient systems. She went over the new water conservation technology such as: Weather/soil sensors-sensors that are sensitive to weather conditions like rain and wind, and monitor sprinklers accordingly, Low Precipitation/high uniformity equipment-equipment that measures precipitation vs. infiltration and monitors sprinkler accordingly, Climate-based irrigation controllers-systems that read sun radiation/evapo-transpiration rate/humidity/etc. daily, among others. She did stress, however, that equipment and technology is only as smart as the installer and maintainer.
We need to be proactive in conserving water because it is in critical supply. Ben Franklin said, "When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water." Lynda then spoke about the 'going green' measures the industry is taking. She said, "Going green is here, it's not a trend. [It's] here to stay." She spoke a lot about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and SITES, an association that deals with water conservation within LEED. It's important for people in every aspect of the horticulture industry to be familiar with these and other legislative initiatives. We need to be aware and know what's going on so we can be on top of our industry.
Lastly, she talked about being involved in the Irrigation Foundation. This foundation has two goals: Investing in Education and Advancing the Industry. They help develop materials for irrigation classes for college students and promote careers for those students. The Irrigation Foundation is also highly involved in PLANET, which involves a number of our students every winter semester.
Here is the application to sign up to participate in PLANET next year. If you are in town, please deliver to Bro. John's office. Otherwise, fill it out, scan it and send it back using this form below. We can use any and all participants with the necessary knowledge. Apply and start preparing!
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.