Jenny Wegley '05
Current Position: Vice President of Horticulture Operations, Dallas Arboretum
Tell us a little about your career. I started out in horticultural retail working at a small native and organic nursery were I learned the ropes of the trade. From there I finished my degree at SFA and eventually obtained a job at the Dallas Arboretum working as an assistant grower. From there I moved up within the organization to Trials Manager and now I am the VP of Horticulture Operations. This involves all aspects of maintaining and operating a 66 acre display garden. Including design of the property, maintenance scheduling, trial gardens, fiscal responsibility, and all aspects in-between.
What skills or knowledge did you learn from SFA Horticulture that you use on a daily basis in your career? The understanding of hands on horticulture. You can read all you want, but real hands on experience…there is no replacement for.
Why should a student pursue a career in horticulture? It is a field that you can never know all there is to know. That is awesome! Learning something new on a daily basis is a key for me.
What advice do you have for future horticulture professionals? Listen first and ask questions second. If an opportunity is given to you take it, even if you do not think you can do it! Always trust your gut instinct as a horticulturist.
Current Favorite Plant: Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ and Cephalotaxus ‘Hedgehog’
Rebecca turk '10
Current Position: Education and Events Manager at Moore Farms Botanical Garden
Tell us a little about your career. As Education and Events Manager at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, I manage our visitation programs. This includes adult class education, professional workshops, tours, events, facility rentals, youth programs, family programs and outreach. When hired in 2013, I was challenged with the unique opportunity of launching an education program. This has been such a rewarding experience and I have loved seeing it blossom more each year. In 4.5 years, our annual visitation has grown from 1,200 guests to 10,000 and this department now has 3 full-time staff members and 3 seasonal workers. I love the challenge of working in the avenue of education and events within public horticulture. I can honestly say that I love what I do. That’s what each student should make as their goal: love going to work each day!
What skills or knowledge did you learn from SFA Horticulture that you use on a daily basis in your career? The love of this industry! Working at the SFA Mast Arboretum introduced me to the field of public horticulture. This provided me with hands-on experience and skills to project me forward in my career in both horticulture and education. I highly recommend working at SFA Gardens to any student! The classes provided me with the wide-agriculture based knowledge that allowed me to excel in graduate school at North Carolina State University.
Why should a student pursue a career in horticulture? To have a career in horticulture, you must meet one major criteria: To love the environment. Just like any industry, this one alters as trends arise but it’s always focused around the plants. I can promise that everyone in this industry loves what they do and are happy to share their passion always. I have never wanted to be in any other industry.
What advice do you have for future horticulture professionals? Gain as much work experience and networking as possible while you are in school. Attend conferences, symposiums and workshops to meet industry professionals and do as many internships as possible all around the nation. These tools will allow you to launch forward into your career knowing more of the path you would like to take.
Current Favorite Plant: Such a hard question since it’s always evolving. If I had to pick one, I would probably say Ginkgo biloba. I love the uniqueness of the leaf shape, history, fall color and overall structure of the tree. I would definitely have to say that Echinacea is a close second!