By Lyndsi Oestmann
Late last fall I had the honor of visiting the Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center at my alma mater, Kansas State University (KSU). Chad Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of landscape horticulture, invited me to present to his students enrolled in the class, “HORT 190 Preparing for Your Horticulture Career.”
Preparing the next generation of horticulture industry leaders is one of my passion points. The session proved both informational for the 30 or so students in the class and exciting for me. Approximately half of the students were first-year and half were transfers from two-year or other KSU degree programs. All are at the precipice of their horticulture education.
Following an overview of Loma Vista Nursery’s work as a Midwest wholesale plant grower, Dr. Miller asked me to discuss what it takes to be successful as a young horticulturist, what I look for in an employee and what internships or other opportunities our nursery has available. I also discussed how to ace an internship interview and what to look for in an employer.
- Do your homework. – Research the company. Read their website and blogs. Review and follow their social media pages. Review any articles that have been written about the company. Look into what others say about their work.
- Think about your strengths. – How do they relate to the job description? Create a relationship between your current or past work experience and the skillset the company is seeking.
- Show passion. – Have a reason for applying outside of checking the box for an internship requirement or earning credit hours.
- Listen and communicate. – Listen to how the interviewer describes the company’s needs. Describe how you will bring value to the company. Make it clear that you want to contribute as well as learn.
- Be curious. – We can train in the basics of the job – but we can’t teach attitude or curiosity. A positive work attitude and curiosity are the two most important characteristics we look for in new hires at Loma Vista Nursery.
From growing plants to servicing customers, a positive work attitude is central to everything we do at our nursery. The curious candidate will want to know the hows and whys of the work they are doing and how it fits into the industry they are joining.
This person will dig deep to help solve problems and will work with the team to create solutions. The ideal candidate will also take advantage of important industry organizations such as AmericanHort and other industry associations. These offer training and education towards career knowledge and advancement.
Following the session I realized – again – the tremendous responsibility we have to young professionals as an industry. There were some impressive young professionals in the class, all with very interesting and intelligent questions. I hope that mid- and senior-level professionals can keep them engaged in horticulture and stack the bench for the next generation of industry leaders.
We had a few potential candidates contact us as a result of the class. During my trip, we also gained a new employee. She joined us this month.
Lyndsi Oestmann is owner and president of Loma Vista Nursery.
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Loma Vista Nursery’s staff members are experts in the field. We love helping people learn and understand more about healthy plants that perform well in Midwest landscapes. For more information about trees, shrubs and plants that are ideal for Midwest landscapes, visit our plant catalog. Feel free to email us at email@example.com or call us at (785) 229-7200 to get answers to your plant-related questions.
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