Building on internships.
An internship at Green Sky Growers, in Winter Garden, Florida, during my first summer out of high school was a game changer for me. I immersed myself in growing systems, management software, and the marketing of local produce, and that experience provided the first building blocks for where I wanted my college studies to take me.
Internships at several greenhouse facilities during my undergrad summers brought me to where I am today as a greenhouse designer. The greenhouses I saw during my internships featured traditional Irrigation, hydroponic systems, and even full-scale aquaponics. Combined, those variations in technology and other facets of interning allowed me to consider several different sectors of the agricultural industry simultaneously.
Internships are crucial to getting positions that would otherwise be hard to land. My internships were some of my hardest work-and-learn experiences, but they fast-tracked me Into making decisions on what sectors of the industry appealed most to me. There were times while working in a greenhouse or wading through research ideas when an "aha!" solution surfaced, and that made the long hours worth it.
Most people are surprised when I tell them that I like the equipment more than the biology of the greenhouse world. Customers ask me to design the perfect greenhouse for their specific needs. Sometimes that means dealing with heavy snow loads or hurricane-force winds. My job requires every design to be custom, and finding that perfect solution--the perfect combination of equipment and structure--fascinates me.
GrowSpan, which is headquartered in South Windsor, Connecticut, and is a division of FarmTek, has provided me with all the necessary tools to continue learning about new products and methods within the industry. A particularly fulfilling part of my job is the on-site visits and consultations with our customers across the country.
I work mostly on greenhouse projects, but I also lead design for Indoor commercial facilities nationwide. Most of my day is spent consulting with customers on various options and sizings for their grow spaces. We work across the industry with growers of many varieties--hobby, ornamental, pharmaceutical, and edible plant growers.
Without a doubt, my internships and graduate degree allowed me to move past smaller production areas into commercial-size greenhouse work. And graduating from the two leading research programs In my field is pretty wild. I enjoy opening up an agricultural news journal to see cutting-edge research from the two universities that granted me degrees!
Commercial Greenhouse and Hydroponics Specialist
University of Florida, Ag Operations Manager, B.S., 2014
University of Arizona, Controlled Environment Ag, M.S., 2016
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Enjoys: Aquariums, hiking, water skiing, and rowing