For our near and dear followers, you’ve been introduced to our team member, Alexa, many times! In a recent blog post, Alexa filled us in on her professional experiences before joining our TPL team. But there’s even more that she couldn’t fit in so she’s given us a Part 2! Check out the rest of her story….
Hey there again Plant Ladies! In my last post, I talked through my journey to finding and understanding my love for horticulture education. I’m all about being outdoors, loving on nature, and teaching people to appreciate the plants and landscapes around them. I think I left you hanging on what came for me after graduation and four amazing internships? Well, in 2016, I started my full time job as the Community Horticulture Educator with University of Maryland Extension in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Every state has an extension service provided by their land-grant university. The job of extension is to provide education, based on the research of the university, to the residents of the state in many topics such as commercial agriculture, water and resource conservation, horticulture, food safety and preservation, financial literacy, and much more! For my job, I was responsible for conducting educational programs that would teach the residents of Baltimore County about home gardening, lawn care, tree care, and everything in between as well as providing plant and pest diagnostic services in our office. I was even featured on local television programming, NPR programming, and in Baltimore Magazine.
I facilitated the training of Master Gardener Volunteers, teaching several portions of that course curriculum while preparing them to help educate our county residents as well. With help from these talented volunteers, we hosted free classes in the public libraries, offered presentations to garden clubs and other community groups, put on workshops on composting, plant ID, seed starting, pollinator preservation and more! I worked with everyone from preschool age to senior citizens. Sometimes I worked with an audience who was extremely knowledgeable and others were complete newbies to gardening. It was always my goal to create a program that was unique and engaging, no matter the audience. I always wanted everyone to walk away with at least a tiny nugget that they didn’t know before.
The plant and pest diagnostic part of my job was pretty awesome too! Together, with the client, we could put on our critical thinking hat and use our best detective skills to get a full picture of the situation in their landscape. You can’t diagnose plant problems and identify pests without understanding everything that is a play in the surrounding landscape – what other plants are nearby, are there environmental stressors like drought or flood, has the soil been disturbed near the plant by construction or something as simple as washing out a paint tray in the grass? Every bit of information helps to set the stage for how the problem began and is incredibly important to deciding how to manage the issue. It’s always rewarding to help someone solve a problem but when they came to the office for a diagnosis, it was a chance to educate someone in a one-on-one setting, help them really understand what was happening in their landscape, and give them tools and knowledge to solve future problems.
In 2020, my husband’s job was moving him to North Carolina, where we both grew up. While it was so hard to leave a job that I loved so much, this move opened the door for me to join Those Plant Ladies and continue to pursue horticulture education in a new and exciting way! I am so thankful for every experience I have had that led me to where I am today and I couldn’t be more blessed than to be a part of this amazing team of women. We’re working hard every day to help provide you with the reliable and trustworthy education programming that you need to take on every project in your landscape. Not to mention the direct education we are doing with our installation clients to ensure they feel empowered to take care of their new dream landscape!
Thanks for following up on this last bit of my journey to where I am today! I can’t wait to get to know each of you better as our community of plant ladies. Drop us a line in the comments here, on social media, send us a DM, smoke signals, or whatever works best for you! We just love hearing more from you – we love hearing about your passions, seeing your landscape projects, and learning all about YOU!