I was definitely interested in plants, and I noticed when I was in junior college that it was very rare for other people to find plants interesting in general. My natural interest in the landscaping industry allowed me to learn and retain the information easier than other people. Whenever I would watch documentaries of plant growth/activity sped up, I realized how similar they are to animals and humans. That really piqued my interest. I specifically chose a Plant Science Degree at Sam Houston State University because I knew that I wanted to work with the scientific method and study plants, though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at first. I had heard that the green industry is one of the best industries to be a part of today, alongside the nursing industry and the computer science industry. This factor was also part of my decision to get into the commercial landscaping world. There is a lot of opportunity in the commercial landscaping industry right now, which means there is a lot of jobs available for people who want to pursue landscaping.
The freedom of a job in landscaping to go outside and enjoy the sunlight was another part of the industry that I really liked. I didn’t want to be stuck in an office all day. Working with plants meant I was guaranteed to be able to go outside. I liked the idea that being outside around landscaping meant that I would be healing myself while working because I would be surrounded by an environment that is really beautiful and peaceful.
What advice would you give high school students who are seeking a career in the green profession?
I would tell them that job fairs, offered both at their schools and surrounding schools, are a really great opportunity to network with people in all facets of the landscaping industry. Even at the high school level, this is a great chance to learn about different job types in landscaping and make connections for down the road.
Also, don’t be afraid to go to junior college first and do your basics there and then transfer to a university. Because a lot of times, you pay so much money for your basic classes at the universities, when you could just go to a junior college for your basics and then transfer to a university. That is what I did, and I was happy with the result. It helps to save money and it made attending college a lot less scary for me, it was a lot less pressure since I was paying less money per class while trying to figure out my path.
Take any opportunity you have to intern at commercial landscaping companies or any other green industry company to really see if this is the industry you want to build a career in. There is so much more business involved in commercial landscaping that I originally realized. Exploring internships will give you a real-world view of what to expect and they are great way to form relationships with wonderful people at landscaping companies.
Are there any subjects in high school or electives that you think would be helpful for them as they transition into a college atmosphere for the landscaping industry?
For me, definitely the biology classes. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Any science classes. I feel like if you’re naturally inclined to like science, especially plant science, then you will enjoy yourself and be able to adapt and thrive within the green industry.
Something I really like about the green industry is that we are a very closely knit community that comes together to share our discoveries. We share new scientific research that we find, and the industry is constantly growing together right now. If you chose to enter the industry, you are going to be a part of that growth! We are revolutionizing landscaping together. I also enjoy that most people I’ve met in the green industry are truly good, ambitious, and caring people who work hard, have passion, and value integrity.