My perseverance to become a “new professional” is guided by my intimate connection with my field of study. The Shreckhise’s have been in the nursery and landscaping industry for over 100 years now. While I had the option of continuing the family tradition and working for the family business after graduating my B.S. in Horticulture, I chose to pursue academia. Why? The nursery industry is facing some of the same problems they encountered 50 years ago. If I really wanted to influence this industry for which I am so passionate, I couldn’t be selling trees and trimming shrubs all day. I realized this after getting a taste of research as an undergraduate. We were trying to use urea—an inexpensive nitrogen fertilizer—for production of containerized nursery crops. It didn’t take long to realize that my research could potentially improve the profitability of nursery crop sales, thus benefiting the family business.

Parker Palmer asserts that as “new professionals” we should know how to “mine [our] emotions for knowledge.” While it may seem silly, I sometimes think back to my days working at the nursery and try to recall some of the most inefficient, back-breaking tasks I was ever assigned, and use these memories as research inspiration. In applied nursery crop research, our job is to make nurseries more profitable and more efficient. This is one possible way (while very literal) I can “mine my emotions for knowledge.”