IN PHOTO (left to right): Paige Williamson, Emily Schultz, Deirdra Moon, Lily Kocha
Working with plants brings fulfillment to Horticulture students.
We met with the members of the first-ever all-female FVTC grounds crew on a warm July morning. Clad in their tie-dyed Horticulture Club t-shirts and sun hats, they were getting ready to head out for a day of work in the sunshine.
All four women are enrolled in the Horticulture program, and while each has her own story for why she chose this field, there is one common theme: joy.
They had this to say about their education at Fox Valley Tech.
How did you decide to go into Horticulture?
Emily Schultz, Neenah: I was laid off from my job as a receptionist. Secretly I was really happy because I didn’t want to work in an office for the rest of my life, so I took it as an opportunity to finally do what I wanted to do: work with my hands, work with plants, work outside, work in the sunshine.
Deirdra Moon, Appleton: At the start of COVID, I left my job in the medical field and had the world in my hands. I chose to come back to school. I love plants, gardening and just being outside. To get an education and play with dirt all day was a definite goal!
Lily Kocha, Holland: I was enrolled in a private four-year university for art, but it wasn’t for me. I’ve always been a gardener and like working with my hands, so watching things grow seemed like a fulfilling job.
Paige Williamson, Seymour: My family owns greenhouses in the Seymour and Pulaski areas. I’ve always wanted to study horticulture and work in the family business.
How are the classes preparing you for the future?
Lily: I feel like I’m actually learning how to do a job instead of just reading a textbook.
Deirdra: We’re getting the opportunity to meet people in the industry. Having employers come in and see the jobs you’ve done is a great takeaway.
What do you like most about your classes?
Lily: Having access to everything we have on campus here: the hydroponics lab, the tissue culture lab, the hands-on aspect of landscaping, greenhouse work. It’s all in one place, and that’s really cool.
Emily: I like all the hands-on work. Plus, there’s literally a greenhouse on campus that we can just go in and play with plants, pretty much whenever we want.
Deirdra: Growing. We started a bunch of different vegetables and crops in the hydroponics lab in the winter, then transitioned them to the greenhouse, the shade cloth outside, and from there we got to harvest. I get to see the bounty of the food that we grow. Just seeing it come from a little seed in a dry packet to this great stuff out here, and to know that we did that! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so accomplished. I love that feeling.
Any parting words?
Deirdra: A year ago, none of us knew each other, and now here we are. It’s still school and there are stressful days, but my classmates and my teachers have my back. We all had a lot going on in the last year before coming here. We all brought that experience in with us, but Fox Valley Tech has been an open door and a warm place. A happy place.