Junior Catlin Kersting, Cloquet, Minn., Enjoys Summer in the Greenhouse

kersting_56.jpgThis past spring Catlin Kersting, a junior horticulture major at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, found herself in a unique position. While most of her fellow classmates were trying to find summer employment, she was being offered a job -- a job she didn't even apply for.  This summer Kersting, a 2010 graduate of Cloquet High School, is working at Wagner's Landscaping Inc., in Fisher, Minn., near Crookston. She attributes her current position with Wagner's to the hands-on approach in her classes at the U of M, Crookston.

Kersting is often found out in the campus greenhouses, whether participating in classes or labs, working with the Horticulture Club, which she was the president of this last semester, or just enjoying the company of the plants or the faculty and staff that work there.  Theresa Helgeson, lab coordinator in the greenhouses, mentioned to Kersting that Roger Wagner, a former instructor on the Crookston campus for a little over 30 years and the owner of Wagner's Landscaping Inc., was looking for a hard worker for the summer at his landscaping business. Helgeson encouraged Kersting to consider it. One day in the greenhouses Kersting and Wagner crossed paths and began to chat about her summer plans.

Originally, she was planning to go home and work at The Green House in Carlton, Minn., Kersting_58.jpgwhere she has worked for the past five years. Wagner instead offered her a job in his greenhouses, he had seen her at UMC and knew she had a passion for horticulture and thought she would be a great addition to his staff. After some support and encouragement from Helgeson, Kersting took a trip out to the nursery and loved it. She took the job offer after the visit, excited about the chance to try something different and gain new experiences.

At Wagner's Kersting has been able to put a lot of what she has learned in the classroom into real world, practical use. She has also had the opportunity to broaden her knowledge base, "I have learned a lot about trees, from grafting and planting to what trees pollinate with one another. I now know which trees need pollinators and which crab apple trees drop their fruit and which keep their fruit. I could not have told you that before," she says.

This job has really showed Kersting that she is on the right path in her college career. "I hope to one day manage my own greenhouse or work in a nursery, and I have really been able to get those experiences here, starting with the planting of the seedlings this winter and selling those same plants to the customers now, as well as all the day-to-day functions."  At Wagner's Kersting can usually be found in one of the greenhouses watering the plants or helping out customers--her favorite part of the job.

kersting_64.jpg"Sometimes the customers will bring out cookies and want to sit down and chit-chat with you! It is really family-like out here which is really nice." The friendly atmosphere at Wagner's is what also drew her to the U of M, Crookston. In both places she is able to work directly with the plants and in both places she feels like a part of a family. "At a big campus you might get lost in the crowd, but at UMC, you are one of the family," Kersting explains. "Everyone really wants you to succeed and will do anything to help you out."

At UMC Kersting has grown into a leader, something she never thought she would be. In addition to being the Horticulture Club president last semester, this fall she will be leading a group of freshmen and transfer students as they become accustomed to campus and each other as well as leading a team of about 20 fellow UMC students as one of the student team leaders for the new student orientation program. These are experiences she feels will be valuable when it comes time to start a career. "If I am going to be running a greenhouse I will be managing employees. These experiences will help me know how to do that effectively."

Kersting views her summer job as more than just watering plants to help them grow. It's a great learning opportunity that is helping her to grow both personally and professionally.

Listen to Catlin Kersting share her experience as a horticulture major: 

For more information about the horticulture program at the U of M, Crookston, visit www.umcrookston.edu/hort.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor's degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

In the photos, top, left, Catlin Kersting surrounded by plants in front of Wagner's Landscaping, Inc.

Middle, right: Kersting, a junior horticulture major at UMC in one of the greenhouses at Wagner's Landscaping, Inc. where she has been working this summer.

Bottom, right: Putting her green thumb to work, Kersting waters the plants in the greenhouse at Wagner's Landscaping Inc.

Contact: Austin Czichozki, communications assistant, 218-281-8446 (czich003@umn.edu); Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director, communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)