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Horticulture and Natural Resources

Featured Stories From 2016

Fall 2016 Horticulture Graduates


December 2016 horticulture graduates gather for a photo prior to receiving their diplomas. All are headed to careers in various parts of the country in a variety of areas within the green industry. The range of employment is as diverse as the industry is broad, from greenhouse production, golf course management and sports turf, to landscape companies and vegetable production within urban environments. Most of these graduates had several job offers to select from before settling on their ideal situation and location, salaries range from the $35,000 to $55,000 this includes benefits.

K-State Faculty Contribute to LED Lighting Book

MillerWiliamsNov2016_300pxKim Williams and Chad Miller, with former graduate student Joshua Craver, have co-authored a chapter about the physiological disorder intumescence in a recently-released book about using LED lighting published by Springer [Kozai, Fujiwara and Runkle, eds. LED Lighting for Urban Agriculture]. Williams and Miller have been studying this disorder since 2007. Their chapter is titled "Light Quality Effects on Intumescence (Oedema) on Plant Leaves."

K-State Shotgun Sports Team at the ACUI Eastern Super Shoot

JamesNorinCongratulations to James Norin (Left), Kyle Colnar (Right), and James Scheer (not pictured) for their performances with the K-State Shotgun Sports Team at the ACUI Eastern Super Shoot hosted by Delta Resort and Spa. James Norin, a WOEM student, won American Skeet and took 2nd in International Skeet, Kyle won the Sporting Clays competition, and James Scheer took 4th place in International Trap. With their placing in the international events, James Norin and James Scheer qualified for the International Shootout at the ACUI National Championship in San Antonio, TX this spring where they will compete for $1000 scholarships

K-State Horticulture Graduate Student Awarded First Place at 2016 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting

RossB300pxThree K-State HNR graduate students competed in the oral and poster competitions out of 90+ other C5 division graduate students at the 2016 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Ross Braun, Ph.D. candidate placed 1st in the Golf Turf Management graduate student oral session, the title of his presentation was "Performance and Recovery of Four Turfgrass Species Subjected to Golf Cart Traffic during Prolonged Drought."

Ross also participated in the Turf Ecology and Management graduate student poster session, the title of his poster was "Nitrous Oxide Emissions in a Turfgrass Environment." Mingying Xiang and Jake Reeves participated in the Turf Ecology and Management graduate student oral session, the title of Mingying's presentation was "Evaluating Zoysiagrass-Tall Fescue Mixtures in the Transition Zone" and the title of Jake's presentation was "Glyphosate Application Timing Affects Tall Fescue Conversion to 'Sharp's Improved II' Buffalograss."

Horticulture Faculty Assist at National FFA Convention

FFAconv2016Drs. Kim Williams and Chad Miller helped plan and judge the national floriculture career development event (FLOR CDE) at the National FFA Convention, held in Indianapolis, October 18-22, 2016. As a member of the planning committee, Dr. Williams designed and ran the ‘growing procedures’ practicum where students demonstrated their potting technique. Also participating as a judge in that event was a former K-State horticulture graduate student, Joshua Craver, who is now completing his Ph.D. at Purdue University. Dr. Miller served as a judge for the ‘selling one-on-one’ component of the CDE in which students were evaluated on their ability to professionally sell a floral design, and he assisted with the plant identification portion of the competition.

After the event was finished, the floral designs created by the contestants were donated to the Richard Roudebush VA Hospital in Indianapolis.  About 150 FFA FLOR participants and faculty distributed hundreds of floral arrangements to the facility and patients. It was a great opportunity to share in the impact that floriculture has on peoples’ lives.

This work with FFA National is an outgrowth of Williams’ and Miller’s on-going research to understand how the career development events in horticulture correlate and influence participants’ choice to pursue a career in the field.

Class Visit to Fort Larned National Historic Site

SharpFtLarnedDr. Sharp and his FORS 741 Outdoor Recreation Behavior class recently went on a trip to Fort Larned National Historic Site in west/central Kansas. The students were there to complete a class project that will assist park managers understanding of the amounts and types of use at the park. The site is notable for the frontier fort and the location along the historic Santa Fe Trail.

Miller Presents at International Society for Horticultural Science Symposium

ChadMiller#3Chad Miller, assistant professor of ornamental horticulture, presented research findings from two projects at the 12th International Society for Horticultural Science Flower Bulb and Herbaceous Perennial Symposium in Kunming, China, this summer.

Miller's first presentation, "Effects of pre-plant bulb soaking in flurprimidol and paclobutrazol on growth and development of three amaryllis (Hippeastrum) cultivars," built on his previous collaborative work to improve production and product handling protocols for amaryllis growers. His second presentation was a poster titled "Effects of planting depth and mulching on the perennialization of several small geophytic species." Read more...

New Greenhouse Industry Internship Video Features 5 K-Staters

HilaryWoodardCheck out the new video that encourages students to apply to the prestigious Ball internship-scholarship program through the American Floral Endowment! Dr. Kim Williams collaborated on the effort that features recent program alum, Hilary Woodard, who was hired by her Ball internship employer, and 2016 Ball Interns from K-State: Rachel Peterson, Matt Briggs, and Kendell Lolley. Interested? Apply to the program today! Go Wildcats! Watch video.

K-State Horticulture Alumni - Thriving Botanicals

JoanneRushCheck out an interior plantscaping business owned and operated by K-State horticulture alumni Joanne (Rayer) Rush and Ryan Rush! Thriving Botanicals specializes in interior plant design and maintenance in the Houston, Texas, area. It's great to see where K-State Horticulture can take you!

PMC Students Attend Park Management Leadership Summit

PMCLeadershipSummitPark Management and Conservation graduate and undergraduate students, represented Kansas State University at the inaugural George Wright Society Student Summit at Glacier National Park in July. The George Wright Society promotes protected-area stewardship and is dedicated to the protection, preservation and management of cultural and natural parks and reserves through research and education.

John Kelly (undergraduate) "The Student Summit was so much more than I thought it was going be. The friendly and inviting atmosphere of the students was only surpassed by the magnificence of the surrounding landscape. It was truly one of the best experiences I have been a part of."

Brooke Mechels (graduate) "Words like beautiful and breathtaking don't come anywhere close to doing this wild, mountainous land justice, nor can a frame capture the profound awareness and humility of the expanse. The amiable and relaxed atmosphere of the students, and the unforgettable adventures shared, made the Student Summit an intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding experience."

Horticulture Students Recently Recognized by the Perennial Plant Association


The Horticulture and Natural Resources Department was successful in receiving two of the seven Perennial Plant Association (PPA) scholarships this year! Miranda Alumbaugh and Karen Schneck were both selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, complimentary registration to all the symposium lectures and tours, along with their lodging expenses was provided for the symposium, which was held in Minneapolis, MN in early August. The PPA symposium is a great opportunity to learn about some of the most current trends, new plants and concerns with perennials in the horticulture industry---from research to production to designing. In addition, it is a great networking opportunity to meet a wide array of people across the industry, including some of the prominent individuals in the horticulture industry working with horticulture plants.

When asked about their experience, Miranda said that "The Perennial Plant Association symposium was an eye opener for me. It reminded me of why I chose this career path and has truly inspired me to want to learn more as our industry changes from day to day. I highly encourage everyone within the horticulture industry to attend at least once in their lifetime."

And Karen said that she "was able to meet industry leaders in the field of horticulture I am most interest in. It helped me define the path I want to take a little more clearly and it gave me incredible contacts for my future in the green industry."

Congratulations, Miranda and Karen! You did a wonderful job representing K-State and the Horticulture and Natural Resources Department!

McNair Scholar Presents Her Research

AmandaWoolley300pxCongratulations to Amanda Woolley, a McNair Scholar and an undergraduate researcher working with C. B. Rajashekar, Professor in Food Crops and Phytochemicals. She presented her research on 'Nutritional Quality of Lettuce and Spinach in High Tunnels and Open Field' at the McNair Final Research Presentations. The research is on-going and is being conducted at the Willow Lake Student Farm.

Bear Cam Gives Researchers Insights into Human-Wildlife Connection

BearcamJeff Skibins and Ryan Sharp, both Assistant Professors in Park Management & Conservation, are making national news with their 'Bear cam' study in Katmai National Park, Alaska. A new study centers on Katmai bears, but it's the people watching them both in the park and online who are the focus. Researchers are looking at how watching wildlife changes attitudes toward conservation. Read more...

Research Along the Minnesota / Canada Border


Max Larreur, a graduate student working with Adam Ahlers, Assistant Professor of Wildlife & Outdoor Management, is conducting research along the Minnesota/Canada border. He and his undergraduate assistant (Spencer Wesche) are investigating how active wetland management (including hybrid cattail removal) affects wetland wildlife in the boundary waters.

Barden Continues International Exchange

TulipFest2016_300pxProfessor Charles Barden organizes a trip for international students to the Wamego Tulip Festival each spring, followed by a cookout at his home. Most of the students and interns were alumni from Zamorano University located in Honduras, although the students come from throughout Central and South America. He notes that the interns are here on a J-1 Visa, and one of the requirements to host a scholar on that type of visa, is to provide some American cultural experiences, hence the visit to the arts and crafts festival, to see a classic slice of Americana!

This year 23 students and interns participated in the event! The cultural experience is a two-way street, with Barden providing the traditional U.S. cookout menu, while many of the students prepared favorite festival dishes from their own countries. Barden has traveled to Honduras numerous times, and he has attended the weddings of two of his former graduate students in that country.

K-Staters at Smith Gardens in Aurora, Oregon






Kendell Lolley, senior in Horticulture Production, is wrapping up her 6-month Vic and Margaret Ball Internship at Smith Gardens production facilities in Aurora, Oregon. During a recent visit to her internship site, Kim Williams also had a chance to catch up with Andres Alamillo, K-State Horticulture alum, who is Inventory Control Manager at the site. Andres manages a dizzying amount of plant inventory and is currently leading the operation's efforts to adopt lean-flow manufacturing processes. Wildcat Pride!

Costa Rica President Visited K-State

CostaRica1CostaRica2On May 19, President of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís visited KSU, invited by the prestigious Landon Lecture Series. He talked about current trends related to security and democracy in Central America. Two HFRR graduate students, Marisol Mayorga and Kenny Artavia participated with the Costa Rican Students Association in this event.

In addition, Marisol and her family were invited to meet with Costa Rican Ambassador Román Macaya and President Solís for a breakfast hosted by the office of President Myers for Costa Rican students, faculty, staff and their families at the President's Suite in the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Upon completing her Ph.D., Marisol and her family expect to return to Costa Rica, where she will join a university faculty.

Two Hort Students Begin Their Internships in Dallas

EgyptConnerFirstdayKSU Horticulture students, Egypt Edwards and Conner White, begin their summer internships at Southern Botanical in Dallas. Southern Botanical is one of the Top 50 Landscape Design, Build, and Management firms in the U.S.

Rourke Wins All-Expense Paid Trip

AlanRourkeAlan Rourke, senior in Landscape Design, won an all-expense paid trip to the American Society of Irrigation Consultants 2016 Regional Conference in San Luis Obispo in mid-May. Alan was awarded this opportunity for earning first place in Landscape Irrigation Design at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition at Mississippi State University in March. Alan gained the National title by receiving first place out of thirty-one competitors.

Ahlers Select as Participant in the Wildlife Society Leadership Institute

AdamAhlersDr. Adam Ahlers was one of 10 individuals selected from North America to participate in the 2016 The Wildlife Society Leadership Institute. Individuals were chosen based on their demonstrated leadership capability, academic record and current leadership roles within The Wildlife Society and their professional position. Read more...

A Day of Service at Tallgrass Prairie

TallGrassPrairieSaturday, April 23, the Tallgrass Chapter of the George Wright Society Student chapter spent a day of service at Tallgrass National Prairie and Preserve. The students were accompanied by club co-advisor Jeffrey Skibins. Students spent the morning painting bison stalls and the afternoon on an interpretive outing on the prairie. The club is planning many additional service days and several trips for 2016-17 academic year. Everyone is welcome!

PMC Students Win Awards at National Conference

NAIRegion6_2016Earlier this semester, Tuesday Meredith won First Place and Anastasia Slough won Second Place in the Collegiate Interpretation Competition at the National Association for Interpretation Conference in Springfield, MO. Tuesday presented a talk on the Flint Hills and Anastasia presented a talk on Sunflowers. Marisol Mayorga won First Place in the non-personal interpretation category for interpretive signs designed to be used at Rock Springs 4-H Camp. Ten students from the Advanced Interpretation class (PMC 741) attended this conference.

Braun Recipient of Graduate Student Teaching Award

BraunCOAawardRoss Braun was one of four recipients of the Richard Elmore Brown Outstanding College of Agriculture Graduate Student Teaching Award. The Richard Elmore Brown Agriculture Endowment for Graduate Student Teaching Awards in the College of Agriculture provides funding for these awards. A cash award is awarded to each winner. Dr. Don Boggs recognized each winner at the Graduate Student Awards and Recognition Reception on April 5, 2016.

K-State Landscape Contracting Team

LandscapeTeam2016CONGRATULATIONS to the K-State Landscape Contracting Team who took 8th place out of 63 schools and brought home a check for $500.00 for winning the Career Development Series with 25+ team members. The event took place this year at Mississippi State over spring break.

Top 10 winners in their events:

  • Eric Grant: 3D Exterior Design (3rd)
  • Beau Fick and Simon Loose: Arboriculture Techniques (9th)
  • Conner White: Business Management (2nd)
  • Nate Snethen and Ty Lutz: Hardscape Installation (9th)
  • Alan Rourke and Justin Malone (2nd): Irrigation Assembly
  • Alan Rourke and Jonathan Jessen: Irrigation Troubleshooting (5th)
  • Alan Rourke: Irrigation Design (1st National Champion!)
  • Brooke Evans and Karen Schneck: Employment Development (4th)
  • Paul Knackendoffel: Sales Presentation (9th)
  • Ty Lutz: Skid Steer Operation (10th)
  • Jesse Gilmore: Turf and Weed ID (8th)

Former Student Wins Army Recreation Award

MattEnochMatt Enoch was a 2001 PMC graduate. He just returned to Fort Riley in the last couple of years; serving in the capacity of community program coordinator for the Post's MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) program. He was just awarded Employee of the Year for Excellence in Army Recreation. "I've brought Matt into my Administration class recently," indicates Sid Stevenson. "He shares the MWR's budgeting approach and a unique agency management perspective. Congratulations Matt!

A Neighbor's Gift Inspires


Trash bags full of bulbs inspired Chad Miller’s love for horticulture at a young age.
By Kelli Rodda

Chad Miller and his family had just moved to Amery, Wis., and the family had made friends in the neighborhood, including a woman who was about to move from her farm. It was clear even to the 12-year-old Miller that she was more than a gardening hobbyist.

“When I’d go to her house, I’d flip through her stacks and stacks of flower catalogs. Her gardens were full of cannas, gladiolus, hollyhocks and iris,” he recalls.

But when it was time to auction off the property, the neighbor couldn’t bear to see her precious flower bulbs stay with the house, fearing the new owners would not take care of the garden. So she began digging up hundreds and hundreds of bulbs — despite the fact that it was not the proper time of the year — and she gave Chad several trash bags full of them.

“I planted them, watched them grow, and that was the catalyst for it all. When most young teens at that time were buying CDs, I was buying dahlias, tulips and daffodils,” he says.

Miller didn’t come from a farming background, although his father’s family had a long legacy of farming.

“My dad grew up on a dairy farm, but he didn’t choose that as a career. Instead, he became a mechanic. But I did enjoy spending time on my uncles’ farms. I just didn’t think that’s where my career path would lead me,” he says.

Miller continued caring for his many bulb gardens, wondering if there was a chance he could start a landscape or greenhouse business.

“In high school I remember taking an aptitude test, and I ranked high in sciences and ag with art close behind,” he says.

Once his counselor convinced him to pursue a horticulture degree at college, Miller enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

“I thought I’d get my degree, go back home and open my own greenhouse, but my advisor and mentor Terry Ferriss encouraged me to think bigger,” he says.

Miller participated in an internship in the Netherlands, which started a fire for international travel and fueled his love for bulbs.

Ferriss suggested that Miller consider becoming a college professor and pursue a master’s degree and attend a Ph.D. program. It’s something Miller had been considering. After all, in a short time his neighbor had helped teach him about bulbs, and it was his desire to honor that special memory and teach others.

Miller received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University, and studied under Mark Bridgen and Bill Miller. He also participated in another program in the Netherlands.

And in 2011, he began teaching at Kanas State Univeristy, where he leads the Landscape Plants 1 and 2 courses, the plant propagation course, and he co-teaches an orientation-type course that prepares students on how to be a successful horticulturist.

“I basically see every undergrad that comes through the horticulture program at Kansas State,” he says.

He’s fortunate to continue his love for travel by teaching courses abroad. He’s taken horticulture students to Australia, England, Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. He’s also accompanied colleagues at Iowa State to South Africa.

Taking students to other countries not only teaches them about different production methods and plants, but it also introduces them to new cultures.

“Many of our students come from a rural area — they come from high school graduating classes of 50 people. So the benefits of them traveling abroad are multifold. They’re learning more about the world around them, and seeing the many different sectors of horticulture and how they all fit together,” he says.

It’s that international aspect that may attract more students to choose horticulture as a career. Connecting with the global horticulture community and the idea of helping to change the world could be the hook the industry needs to get more young people involved, Miller says.

But closer to home, Miller is on a task force at Kansas State with Kim Williams, professor of greenhouse management, to come up with ideas on how to get in front of younger people at an early age and get them interested in horticulture.

“One idea is to partner with the Future Farmers of America organization more often because they’re well established and they have a horticulture and floriculture component,” he says.

Upland Gamebird Management Class

WOEMClassTraining400pxWOEMClassTraining3_400pxWOEM's Upland Gamebird Management class had the opportunity to learn dog-training skills from Jeff Morris Thursday, March 4.

New Green Wall in the Lobby Area

GreenWallLobbyA new green wall was recently added to HFRR's lobby area on the first floor. The wall of living plants has transformed the lobby environment and offers hands-on learning for students taking the HORT 377 Interior Plantscaping course. A beautiful new addition--swing by to check it out!