From Psychology to Horticultural

When I was growing up, my mom had a three step plan for when I had a bad day. First, feed me something.* Second, give me a hug. Third, send me outside. Seriously, those three things fixed basically any problem I had. Fail my spelling test? Follow the steps. Best friend moved? Follow the steps. Change schools for 8th grade and not have any friends? Follow the steps. With this as a background I feel like I should have known an outside job was where it was at for me. But no. I wanted to become a counselor. This was never going to be a good fit. Counselors are awesome. I sometimes wish it had been. I could sit inside in the A/C in August when it is 109 degrees out. (I would also have the potential for regular vacation.)

To earn a degree in Psychology, or in any field, require certain criteria be meet. For me, that meant so many hours of science classes. I had taken a food science class; the only thing I remember from that class is why chocolate turns white.(Simplified version is that as chocolate heats up the fat melts and moves to the surface of the chocolate. It has a name, but I don’t remember what it is.) I also took biology which was fine, but not actually that great. I needed one more class. I heard through the general rumor mill that the horticulture 101 (I think it was actually 1501 maybe?) was easy, and you got plants to take home. I liked plants. I liked plants in my apartment. I had successfully killed them all. I signed up and hoped that I could learn to keep at least a houseplant alive. Two weeks in, I called my roommate and best friend and told her if I believed in reincarnation (which I don’t) I was going to be a horticulturist in my next life (yes, I do understand that is not how reincarnation actually works). Needless to say I loved it. I loved the class. I loved the lab. I loved the professor teaching the class, and the assistant professor teaching the lab was amazing. But I was still determined to get my degree in psychology and work towards being a professional counselor. So I filled everyone one of my open spots with Hort classes and considering making it a minor.

Two semesters later, I am in my last semester until I graduate. I sit down to the “what am I actually doing after school” plan for my senior seminar class. It is at this point that I realize I would need a PhD to be a counselor. I had heard this before. I knew this. I had seen the program outlines. But I had never thought about actually staying in school all the way through a PhD. As soon as I processed all of this out, I knew it was not going to happen. There was no way I was going to make it through that much school with my sanity intact. It just wasn’t going to happen. I had only made it through a bachelor’s by the grace of God and the prayers of my parents. The next step was clearly to look into what jobs were open to someone with only a bachelor’s degree. The answer: not much, and nothing that I could see myself doing with any competency. May I just say that it is amazing how what you think you can do changes as you get older and face challenges? Thinking back on the jobs I was freaked out about, I know now that I could do any of those jobs and do them well. I might even enjoy them. I spent at least a week totally losing my mind, as only the young and untried can. After a week, I am going through homework, notebooks, lab books, and the like from the previous semesters when I come across one of the quizes from my first hort class. On it, Matthew Kent had written “Double Major?”. A light bulb goes off. The following day I am sitting in the horticultures advisors office asking what I need for a double major. She tells me that I am not that far away, two semesters if I want to double major, three semesters if I want a double degree. Well than. I call my parents and half tell, half ask about going for a double degree (there is no need to go half way and only get a second major). I don’t remember much about the conversation, only that it ended with the understanding that if I could make it work then they were fine. My dad, however, has recounted several times how they were so flabbergasted that I wanted to get a second degree that they couldn’t really argue with me in the moment. I am pretty sure they thought there had been a case of body-snatching going on. From there it was a matter of getting the paperwork filed, scheduling out the rest of the classes I would need, and three additional semesters. I loved those three semester. Well except basic chemistry. Organic chemistry was fine, soil sciences, which is lots of chemistry, also fine. Basic chemistry was the worst. I am not sorry I added horticulture. I love the jobs it has lead me to. I am happiest outside, working with my hands. I find so much satisfaction in what I do.

*I was and still am bad about not eating. Skipping lunch happens almost everyday.

Until next time,

Farmer Jo

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