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Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association
Academic Awards Program

“Growing Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders”
Click to find out more about the 2016-2017 MNLA Foundation Scholarship Program.

 

Congratulations to the 2015-16 MNLA Foundation Scholarship Winners!

The MNLA Foundation partnered with 17 member companies to present 23 academic scholarships for the 2015-16 school year. Here is a look at this year’s recipients.

 

caitlin barnhart

Sponsored by: Tangletown Gardens, LLC
School: University of MN-St. Paul
Major: Food Systems
Expected Graduation: December 2015
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: Producing food should be wholesome, not unhealthy or bad for the environment. When I learned that the current food systems of the world produce about 18% of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, I needed to change that. My goal is to enhance the sustainability of food production systems, in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Future Plans: I would like to focus on aquaponics after graduation, and how it may be used to create a sustainable food system, potentially an off-the-grid food system!

 

kitty chang

Sponsored by: Countryside Gardens, Inc.
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Landscape Horticulture & Urban Forestry
Expected Graduation: Spring 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: My interest and appreciation for plants began early on, watching my dad garden in our yard, creating a backyard oasis. Since then, I have always enjoyed spending time in gardens and parks. Although my initial career took me down a very different path from the green industry, it also brought me to Hawaii, a place of unique tropical plants, many of them native only to the islands. With its warm climate and lush green landscapes, it was there that my interest in plants grew even more. A few years later I decided to go back to school to pursue this passion and start a new career working with plants. Future plans: My goal is to work for a community and plan and establish care, maintenance and beautification for parks, public gardens, streets, malls or other landscaped areas.

Linnea fink-bittner

Sponsored by: Hoffman & McNamara Nursery & Landscape
School: Dakota County Technical College
Major: Landscape Horticulture
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study:
I grew up on a hobby farm. We always had several gardens around the property, both vegetable and flower gardens. I always knew that I didn’t want a career where I was indoors behind a desk all day. Over the years, various media (documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.) peaked my interest in the green industry. The world we live in could definitely benefit from more plants and people who know how to properly care for them.

Future plans: I have a few paths that could be a fit for me. The design is intriguing, but I prefer to get my hands in the dirt. I have a strong interest in promoting the sustainable practice and would enjoy creating edible landscapes, rain gardens, native meadow and gardens. I also am interested in greenhouse production and food crops.

 

Kyle Frederixson

Sponsored by: Malmborg's, Inc.
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Greenhouse Management
Expected Graduation: December 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: The concepts of sustainability and renewability are major reasons I became interested in the green industry. I enjoy learning and working in an industry where I can use the resources and environment in an ethical and sustainable manner.

Future plans: I would like to find employment with a nursery or greenhouse where I can continue to learn about the industry.My interests includes starting a CSA that will partner with a school offering learning experiences and provide quality local food to the community.

 

Jodi gehrke

Sponsored by: Mickman Brothers, Inc.
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Horticulture, Landscape Design & Construction
Expected Graduation: Spring 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I was raised on regular visits to the Missouri Botanical Garden, snapping beans at the kitchen table, and camping in forests across the country with my family. During my career in the military, I planted gardens where ever I lived only to have to leave them when I moved every two years. After recently returning from living in London, England and finally settling down, I am able to complete a serious study of horticulture and design. I am eager to have the knowledge to care for and modify the landscape around me to create something special.

Future plans: I look forward to designing residential landscapes and expanding my experience designing landscapes for public spaces. In addition, I’m interested in working with customers to help them find the right plant for the right place.

 

nicholas hengel

Sponsored by: Rochester Arborist Workshop
School: Rochester Community & Technical College
Major: Horticulture Technology
Expected Graduation: Fall 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: It all kind of happened by accident. I started working for a tree care company right after high school, with plans to study Law Enforcement. After a year in the Law Enforcement program, I decided that my true passion was tree care, and switched my major to Horticulture Technology. Future plans: I plan on staying with the tree care company that I am currently working for, and hope to advance my career within the company.
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nathan hvidsten

Sponsored by: Hoffman & McNamara Nursery & Landscape
School: University of MN-Crookston
Major: Horticulture: Landscape Design/Production Emphasis
Expected Graduation: 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I worked on a large high-school project involving wild edible plants, that provided the initial spark of interest. Since then I have been learning all I can about the field of horticulture. My internship on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica last summer solidified my decision to work in the green industry.

Future plans: I plan to start my own sustainable gardening business in landscape design, installation, and maintenance for residents and businesses. In addition, I am interested in the production/greenhouse industry.

 

christina jerkins

Sponsored by: Home Sown Gardens
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Urban Forestry, Landscape and Horticulture
Expected Graduation: Fall 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: My love and passion for all things outdoors led me to go back to school for a degree in Urban Forestry. After attending Hennepin Tech and working with the passionate, experienced, knowledgeable instructors there, I knew this was where I needed to be. What I am learning is invaluable and will help me get to where I want to go. After my first few semesters, I decided to go for a degree in Landscape and Horticulture as well.

Future plans: After graduation, I will be concentrating on expanding my professional gardening business.

 

joey lemay

Sponsored by: Wilson's Nursery, Inc.
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Urban Forestry
Expected Graduation: Summer 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: The process of diagnosis has always interested me, Arboriculture is one of the few things I've genuinely felt like a natural at. I've always appreciated the outdoors and now I'm fortunate enough to be immersed in it for a career.

Future plans: I am interested at becoming a certified arborist through the ISA and providing consulting work. As a current Plant Health Care Technician, I have exposure to the diagnosing process of abiotic/biotic conditions and of tree care.

matthew r. lennon

Sponsored by: Otten Bros. Nursery & Landscaping, Inc.
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Landscape Design/Construction
Expected Graduation: 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: My passion is working outdoors and have my hands in the earth since I was ten years old. In high school, I was inspired by my agriculture classes and FFA.

Future plans: I plan to work in the green industry in landscaping, design, and construction with a focus on management.

 

avery marcott

Sponsored by: Robin D. Linder Memorial Scholarship
School: University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Major: Horticulture
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: Horticulture has always been a niche for me, from as far back as I can remember I was in the garden helping my mother, all the way until high school and college where I became more passionately involved. During high school, my interests were sparked further when I enrolled in a horticulture class as a freshman. Working in the greenhouse served as an eye-opening experience that developed something that I could create a career out of.

Future plans: My passion has been focused on native species production.I plan on pursuing my passion of horticulture, in addition, finding a niche in the industry to utilize my graphic design skills.

moriah maternoski

Sponsored by: Wilson's Nursery, Inc.
School: University of MN-St. Paul
Major: Food Systems, Nutrition, and Sustainable Agriculture
Expected Graduation: December 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I began my college study in Nutrition to become a Dietitian. After being in the program for 1 year, I viewed food in a different way. I no longer saw food for the macro and micronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) it contained. Rather, I came to understand that in order to make communities healthier, there is much more to food outside of its nutritional components. I became especially passionate about getting to know where my food was coming from and communicating that to other people.

Future plans: I am interested overall in a career where I can take my combined knowledge of sustainable agriculture and nutrition to better the health of communities. I learned first hand in my internship with the Minneapolis Public Schools in their Farm to School Program, connecting students with local food, advertising it and encouraging them to try new foods, will make a huge difference.


casey mcclendon

Sponsored by: Natural Creations
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Landscape Design and Construction
Expected Graduation: December 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I became interested in the green industry through working in this field and my past mentors. I built a sense of accomplishment by providing quality work for clients. . This experience was more than a job, but a passion of learning more and grow in my career field. I continued with self-study but wanted more which led me to Hennepin Technical College Landscape Design Program. Future plans: Upon completion of my degree, I would like to continue to learn and build my skills in design through an assistant position, as well as independent work.

 

sarah mittelstadt

Sponsored by: Bailey Nurseries, Inc.
School: University of MN-St. Paul
Major: Food Systems
Expected Graduation: 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I first got interested in the green industry when I studied Plant Propagation in my freshman year of college. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do until this course sparked my interest in plants. From there, I narrowed my passion to edible plants, their interactions within ecosystems and the future for sustainable food cultivation.

Future plans: After graduation, I would like to continue my education studying permaculture principles and methods. In addition, I'd like to continue to travel and learn from different sustainable models gathering knowledge to ultimately own a diversified farm, that also becomes a community hub for skill share, education, cooking, and more!

 

rachel mueller

Sponsored by: Southview Design
School: Dakota County Technical College
Major: Landscape Horticulture
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: For the past seven years, I have been involved in the viticulture industry in Southern Minnesota. I have planned, installed and maintained 10 acres of cold climate grapes as well as helped design and install multiple rain gardens, wildflower, and native plantings on the winery grounds. Because I was raising a food crop, I was cognizant of the amount and type of chemicals I was applying but also had to be diligent around the winery green spaces because of our employees and customers. The stormwater retention systems, including a green roof and permeable pavements, helped to prevent runoff into the nearby creek. Between the storm water systems and raising a local food source, I became more aware of Sustainable Practices on a large commercial scale.

Future plans: My intent is to start a design business focusing on educating clients about what they can do to incorporate better landscape practices - even small changes make a difference.

 

marissa nechuta

Sponsored by: Bachman's, Inc.
School: University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Major: Horticulture, Landscape Design and Management
Expected Graduation: 2018
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I developed my passion for Horticulture through FFA. I had the privilege to compete in Nursery and Landscape competitions, along with Floriculture in FFA judging competitions. By participating, I was able to see that I was not only good at Horticulture, but I really enjoyed practicing and learning the science. I found my niche in landscaping during high school when I had the opportunity to teach summer school classes that interacted with our school's landscapes. Since then, I have obtained positions at various nurseries to expand my knowledge in Horticulture.

Future plans: I see myself as a successful landscape designer in the Central Wisconsin area. in 2017, Experience is key to learning how the industry runs, and eventually I would aspire to run my own business, providing landscape design, garden maintenance, and plant retail.

 

jesse pehrson

Sponsored by: Barrett Lawn Care
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Landscape Design and Construction
Expected Graduation: Spring 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I have always liked being outside. I also enjoy designing and the concept of creating. Future plans: I hope to become a landscape designer.

 

derick perkins

Sponsored by: Bailey Nurseries, Inc.
School: Iowa State University
Major: Horticulture: Ornamental Plant Production and Garden Center Management
Expected Graduation: Spring 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: Growing up in small town Iowa, my family has a large garden that I have been involved with since I was a child. While in high school, I worked at a local greenhouse and garden center. I loved working with plants so much that I decided to go to Iowa State University to major in horticulture and continue learning about plants. This past summer I interned with Bailey Nurseries, West Coast Division further developing my skill with nursery crop production. I have a genuine interest in a career with the nursery industry.

Future plans: In the future, I see myself in a few different occupations. I am interested in nursery production as a grower or working with plant health. I am also interested in fruit and vegetable production.

 

andy sherwood

Sponsored by: Bailey Nurseries, Inc.
School: University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Major: Horticulture
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I became interested in horticulture when I was young by gardening and working with plants with my dad. I was always interested in the physiology and morphology that allowed them to reproduce and grow. This quickly led to my fascination with plant propagation. I set up a growing room in my house with fluorescent grow lights under which to germinate seeds, root cuttings and run various plant growth experiments as I began to learn about them.

Future plans: To be managing a plant propagation and production operation at either a greenhouse or nursery. I also aspire to breed and introduce a unique variety to the industry.

 

laurel smith

Sponsored by: Robin D. Linder Memorial Scholarship
School: Century College
Major: Horticulture
Expected Graduation: Spring 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: My grandmother always had gardens filled with beautiful flowers and wonderful things to eat. I believe it was with her and with my Great Aunts on the old family farm that I became first interested in the industry. Future plans: I plan to continue working for Abrahamson's Nurseries.

 

katherine thormodsgard

Sponsored by: Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens
School: Hennepin Technical College
Major: Landscape Design and Construction
Expected Graduation: May 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I have always loved plants and beauty in nature. Because of my passion for plant life, I pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology. While basic scientific research is important, it did not fulfill my need to be involved more intimately with plants in terms of practical knowledge and creating a more beautiful, healthy environment.

Future plans: I’m interested in a landscape design position. I would focus on urban and suburban neighborhood design in an effort to increase plant diversity, sustainability, environmental health, and natural aesthetics.

 

anna travis

Sponsored by: Robin D. Linder Memorial Scholarship
School: University of MN-St. Paul
Major: Food Systems: Consumer and Markets
Expected Graduation: Fall 2017
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: I have always been interested in the food and restaurant industry. I noticed all the waste that occurred. My dream has always been to own a restaurant, so I wanted to learn and study about how we can use and produce food more sustainably.

Future plans: My plan is to be to work with different organizations that improve our food system, and be a part of educating the community the importance of sustainability and alternative energy sources. My knowledge I gain from these experiences would allow me to open up a restaurant that focuses on being a sustainable operation.

natalie vandenburg

Sponsored by: Gertens
School: University of MN-St. Paul
Major: Food Systems
Expected Graduation: December 2016
Please explain how you got interested in a green industry area of study: My interest in the green industry stems from a passion for food. Once I began studying food systems, I realized that feeding the world, both now and in the future, is inextricably linked with the health of the environment. It's fascinating to study how the environment affects the food system and how the food system, in turn, affects the environment.

Future plans: I would like to help bring human and environmental health in alignment by creating a more sustainable food system. I am particularly interested in how the "good food movement" can overlap with environmental issues like agriculture, waste, and energy.

 

 

 



These scholarships are made possible through cooperation between the MNLA Foundation and MNLA-member-company sponsors. If you are interested in becoming a scholarship sponsor, or in finding out more about the MNLA Foundation, please contact MNLA by email mnla@MNLA.biz or by calling 651-633-4987.
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