What leadership roles or volunteer experiences have been important to you during your time at Maryland?
I am an active sister of the professional agriculture sorority, Sigma Alpha, and I served as the 2016 Ag. Day Committee Chair Head. I developed correspondence skills and learned how to effectively communicate ideas. A few things I have done with Sigma Alpha include putting together care packages for veterans, collecting clothes for the Salvation Army, and each semester I have helped make dog toys for the Washington Humane Society. I was the swine coach for Ag (Maryland) Day for Block and Bridle in 2016 and am serving again this year as coach. As a member of Primmanum Honor Society, I am able to volunteer with different fundraisers and projects on and around campus, while still working towards my goal of graduating with honors. I have made welcome-home cards for veterans and I have helped assemble sandwiches for Martha's Table. I participated in Good Neighbor Day this year and volunteered in the Community Learning Garden, where I prepared the terrace hillside for planting. Through my Environmental Horticulture class I have helped prune trees at the Center for Young Children on Campus, helped prepare planting beds at the Terp Farm, and have helped repair a pollinator habitat and install a green roof for protection against erosion. I have also been a student representative for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for a student panel held for Maryland public school ag. teachers.
What has your scholarship meant to you and how has it enabled you to pursue new and exciting opportunities?
I am the oldest child of a low-middle class family and I will be the first in my family to receive a college degree. I knew from an early age that it would require hard work and motivation to be accepted into college. This attitude molded me into a responsible young adult. Without scholarships, my dream of attending college would never have come true. Family financial struggles has made me aware that I am responsible for earning the money I need to obtain my degree. It is because I have received scholarships that I attend a Big Ten University, have been able to get involved with my college community, be in Primmanum Honor Society, and work in Dr. Walsh's Horticulture Lab.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Maryland, what makes this place special to you and what is your favorite part of being a Terp?
Surprisingly, I went through a time period that I thought I did not want to be "typical" and attend UMD. My thinking changed upon meeting Dr. Slaughter, April Brohawn, Dr. Cooper, and some other staff members of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at an information session that was held at an extension office in Frederick County. I came home that evening, my head held high, and proudly telling my dad that I was determined to become a Terp. What attracted me to UMD was the agricultural programs. After a few visits to campus and meeting with some of the AGNR staff, I was able to figure out what I wanted to major in. I love how credible and informational the courses are and that they provide a challenge that helps to mold me into a professional and intelligent future job applicant. What really impressed me was that a majority of graduating Terps already have a job lined up in their career field upon graduation. The University of Maryland provides endless opportunities for students to be involved, obtain a job, get an internship, and earn scholarships. These all appealed to me and here I am, a sophomore at UMD.
Growing up, I had difficulty making friends because my peers were from more financially well off families that did not care about agriculture. Coming to UMD, I found my niche and have established lasting friendships with people that express similar interests. What makes campus special to me, is that when I walk around, I have the resounding feeling of belonging. This campus is my home away from home and the professors, students, and staff that I have met and have bonds with, helped me establish my college family.
My favorite aspect about being a Terp is despite how large the campus and my classes are, I am still able to form personal bonds and connections with professors and students. I am able to network with my adviser and other staff to gain internship and job opportunities, scholarships, and volunteer work to gain necessary experience in my field of study. I also love that I can walk into buildings such as Symmons Hall and be greeted by my name, even if I have not stopped by for a while. Even with classes, my professors and teaching assistants learn my name and through office hours or discussion sessions I am able to establish personal connections that have led to potential references for jobs and scholarships.
How will you make a positive difference in the world?
My ultimate goal is to own and operate my own farm business. My farm would mimic the operations of where I currently work during the summer, Glade Link Farms. Like Glade Link Farms, I would apply to several farmers’ markets in the area to extend my outreach into my community. Community supported agriculture is important to me and I understand not everyone can make the drive during business hours to pick their own produce. Participating in several farmers’ markets will help me bring the farm to the people.
Initially I would like to start with produce such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, squash, peas, kale, spinach, and other garden vegetables. I would then like to implement a cut flower operation and value added products. Then if I am financially able and if I can find the land, I would like to offer some pastured meat. I know that if I am able, I would like to offer a “U-Pick” operation as well as pre-picked option for the convenience of the elderly and disabled customers. I would like to have a large enough cut flower operation to supply local florists, sell arrangements at markets, and put together wedding arrangements. In many regards, Glade Link Farms is the reality of my career goals and dreams. Working there since 2013 has helped me get an idea of what it would be like to achieve my career goals.
I value the strength of community and I believe everyone has a right to healthy, fresh, and delicious food. My goal is to implement an employment program on my farm that would provide the less fortunate and war veterans with an opportunity to work. The program would provide money, food, and employable skills to them. With the war veterans, I want the program to function as a therapy program that allows those who fought in the armed forces the opportunity to use farming as a way to heal from their military experiences and readjust to civilian life. Once I have my farm, I would like to work towards creating a scholarship for students pursuing a degree in horticulture, floriculture, or related fields of study. I enjoy helping others and I want to use my abilities and education to give back to my community because without my community, I would not be able to attend college.
I know that to accomplish my goal of having a small farm requires patience, time, and money. After I graduate from the University of Maryland, I want to use what I have learned as an agricultural science and technology-environmental horticulture major and sustainability studies minor in my career. I want a government job focused on horticulture, floriculture, and sustainability. I want a job that allows me to interact with the public, educate the public, and positively impact the environment. I want to be able to initiate positive changes in my community wherever I end up working. My passion for agriculture and its many facets means I can be content and successful at any job in my field.
What is your major, minor, class and graduation year?
I am an Agricultural Science and Technology-Environmental Horticulture major with a Sustainability Studies minor. I am currently a junior and expect to graduate in the Fall of 2018.
What is your Hometown?
I am from the very small town of Woodsboro, located in northern Frederick County, Maryland.
Tell us about your favorite class, extracurricular activity, academic opportunity, community involvement or another unique experience.
I really enjoy working in the Research Greenhouse Complex, as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Chris Walsh's Horticulture Lab. I started working for him in the Fall of 2016 after receiving helpful advise from Dr. Cooper. I mentioned needing a job to Dr. Walsh, who is also my adviser, and I left that meeting having with one! I have really enjoyed the experience thus far. I love being in the greenhouse and being able to work hands-on, with plants. This job provides employable skills that I can carry with me after graduation. I am even considering working as a research assistant as a career. I am currently working on a second round of blueberry soil experiments for Larriland Farms. I also assist another undergraduate with the blueberry experiment from the fall. I find it interesting to see how the soil types and cultivars correlate to growth and health.