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Horticulture and Natural Resources

Featured Stories From 2017

Alumna Robyn Schmitz Wins Award

RobinSchmitzAn independent panel of judges has selected the honorees for Thinking Bigger Business Media Inc.'s 25 Under 25 Awards. These are Kansas City-area for-profit businesses that have been in operation for at least three years and have fewer than 25 full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding small businesses, which are critical to the economy: 89.4 percent of U.S. businesses have 20 or fewer employees, according to 2014 U.S. Census data. For this award, companies are judged on financial stability, ability to overcome adversity and challenges, community involvement, distinguishing or defining characteristics, and company vision.

We congratulate alumna, Robyn Schmitz, Owner of High Prairie Landscape Group, LLC. for being selected as a winner of the 17th annual 25 Under 25 Awards. This is the first time a horticultural company has been recognized for this award. Robyn graduated in 2009 from Kansas State University, specializing in Landscape Design.  Her success comes as no surprise, while a student, Robyn was keenly involved in the Horticulture Club and Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), which is now called the National Collegiate Landscape Competition. During her years in our program, Robyn's enthusiasm and passion for horticulture was contagious. She is now recognized for promoting the green industry as a truly professional business that offers quality products and services, employing several of our former students—thank you, Robyn!

Horticulture Faculty Wins USDA National Teaching Award

ChadMillerChad Miller, Associate Professor of Horticulture, was recognized as one of two recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Best New Teacher Award for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The New Teacher Award recognizes a faculty, with no more than seven consecutive years of experience in higher education teaching, who has demonstrated a commitment to a career in teaching, has exhibited meritorious teaching through scholarship of teaching and learning, and exemplary service to students. The award also includes a $2,000 stipend for the purpose of strengthening the honoree's teaching and advising program. Read more...

Ph.D. Student Wins Research Competition

SpraguePosterCompStuart Sprague, Ph.D. candidate advised by Dr. Park in Horticulture, was selected as a top 10 presenter at Research and the State Graduate Student Poster Session on November 9 by K-State faculty and post-doc judges. He will present his poster, Expression of AtGRXS17 in Maize increases yield under heat stress, at the Capital Graduate Research Summit being held in Topeka in February.  Congratulations Stuart!

PMC Masters Student Wins Graduate Research Competition

AshleyKellyAshley Kelly, MS student in PMC who was one of 10 winners in last week's Graduate Research Competition. Ashley's poster, entitled, "Inspiring Future Conservationists through a Junior Zookeeper Program" will represent K-State at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in February.

Ashley's research project, led by Dr. Skibins, is a 2 year study at Manhattan's own Sunset Zoo examining the impacts of youth programming. Fellow PMC graduate student Susi Algrim contibuted to the project. Congratulations Ashley!

Graduate Student Earns National Turfgrass Science Award

Mingying2017AwardMingying Xiang, Ph.D. Graduate Student in Turfgrass is one of this year's recipients of the prestigious Chris Stiegler Travel Award. She will formally receive the award at the annual meeting of the Crop Science Society of America/American Society of Agronomy/Soil Science Society of America.

Congratulations Mingying! She is recognized for her academic achievements in the classroom, research accomplishments, and leadership activities. Mingying's research is focused on evaluating zoysiagrass breeding lines for cold hardiness, quality, and resistance to the disease large patch along with studying the potential for tall fescue-zoysiagrass blends to reduce the disease brown patch while maintaining overall summer quality.

Kansas State Turf Program Grows Well-Rounded Careers

FryVideo2017Sure, the K-State Turfgrass Science program has plenty to do with the science of growing grass, managing water, and more. But what they're also growing are graduates ready to succeed and advance through a variety of career stages.

"We have evolved over time to incorporate coursework into our program that we consider most important for students to succeed," notes Jack Fry, Professor of Turfgrass Science at Kansas State University. Read more and watch video...

Toro Hosts K-State Turf Students & Faculty at World Headquarters

Toro2017Fourteen students and five faculty and staff visited Toro World Headquarters in Minneapolis between September 27 and 29. Toro sponsored the trip that allowed attendees to get an up-close look at the Toro Company and its manufacturing processes. In addition, the group visited US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play (and location of the 2018 Super Bowl) and Hazeltine National Golf Club, which hosted the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Chris Tritabaugh, golf course superintendent, led the group onto the course to discuss some cutting-edge maintenance practices he uses. Our thanks goes out to all those at Toro for hosting us, and more specifically to Mr. Jim Heinze and Mr. Boyd Montgomery who encouraged us to take the trip, and then led us on an incredible two-day visit.

Faculty & Spouse Assist With New Trail Opening in Honduras

Barden_HondurasDuring a recent visit to Zamorano University in Honduras, Dr. Charles Barden, Professor of Forestry, and his wife, Dianne were honored as ribbon cutting dignitaries, to officially open the first nature trail "Eco Sendero" on the expansive Zamorano campus grounds. They are pictured here with Director Laura Suazo, trail designer Dr. Oliver Komar, and Zamorano President Jeff Landsdale.

The trail crosses a number of habitat types, from upland grass meadow to wetlands and forested riparian areas, and will be popular with bird watchers. During his visit, Dr. Barden also caught up with recent HNR Master's grads Dalila Maradiaga and Merilin Barahona who have returned to Honduras, and found fulfilling jobs in their fields of study.

Perennial Plant Association Scholar Winner

MeganHMeganH_groupMegan Haresnape, a junior, in the Horticulture and Natural Resources Department recently attended the annual Perennial Plant Association (PPA) conference from July 24 to 28, in Denver, CO. Megan was one of six PPA Student Scholars from the US and Canada to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the organization. In addition the scholarship, she received complimentary registration and lodging to all the symposium lectures and tours in and around Denver, CO.

The PPA symposium provides 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 design. It is also 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 her experience, Megan said, "it was a great networking experience. The symposium left my imagination soaring into what my future could be like. The PPA Symposium is an even I wish more students could attend."

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

Horticulture Student Selected as HortScholar

KarenSchneckKaren Schneck, senior, in the Horticulture and Natural Resources Department recently attended Cultivate in Columbus, OH from July 11-18 as a HortScholar!

Karen was selected as a HortScholar through the AmericanHort organization. The HortScholars program is a competitive scholarship program open to undergraduate and graduate students, attending 2 and 4-year institutions across the United States. HortScholars are awarded an All-Access Pass to Cultivate, one of the horticulture industry's largest professional trade shows and conferences. In addition to the convention pass, scholars receive a complimentary one-year student membership to AmericanHort.

At Cultivate the HortScholars spend seven days attending education sessions, networking and working with industry mentors. It is a truly unique experience designed to assist the scholars with their future horticulture career, through exposure to industry opportunities, and it's leaders.

When asked about her HortScholars experience, Karen said, "I had a FANTASTIC time. It was extremely overwhelming, but so worth it. I now have six new friends that I know for a fact will be my friends for life. I got to meet incredible industry people and learn about all sorts of new plants. This program is so amazing and I wish more people could be a part of it!"

Congratulations, Karen!

K-State Vic & Margaret Ball Intern at Tagawa Greenhouses

WoolleyAmandaAmanda Woolley, a senior in Horticulture Production, was awarded a 3-month American Floral Endowment Vic and Margaret Ball Internship earlier this spring. Amanda just finished her internship at Tagawa Greenhouses, based in Brighton, CO. Tagawa's is a large, primarily wholesale plug/liner and finished plant producer of annuals, perennials, succulents and other crops, covering nearly 60 acres. During a recent visit to Tagawa, Amanda gave Dr. Miller a full day tour of the different facilities, including the large facility in Brighton, along with the other two nearby Table Mountain and Foothills facilities. Tagawa also has a retail garden center in Centennial, CO.

Amanda has a strong interest in succulent plants and one of her projects she was in charge of was developing and coordinating a display of the different succulent plants Tagawa produces, for their recent customer day. The succulent line is a newer endeavor for Tagawa and Amanda was excited to be a part of this! Below is a picture of Amanda with several mixed container pots she designed and planted! She also created a living succulent wall from scratch. Amanda said it was a great learning experience, learning a lot in three months! We look forward to hearing all about her experience in her internship report this fall!  Congratulations, Amanda!

Students Travel to Italy

SpringItaly2017Eleven horticulture students experienced horticulture, history and culture during a two-week tour of the Tuscany area of Italy in May 2017. The trip was led by Dr. Cathie Lavis and Dr. Chad Miller. The trip focused on horticulture and historical sites allowing students to fully experience Italian culture and foods. Highlights were the famous Boboli Gardens in Florence, the Vatican in Rome, vineyards and landscapes of Cinque Terre, fruit production in Emilia Romagna, Italy and the many sights and sounds of Venice. Students are pictured in the Medieval Vegetable and Herb Garden at the University of Studies of Perugia, Italy.

Landscape Management Student Excels at Summer Internship in South Carolina

AlicErpenldingAlic Erpelding spent his summer as a landscape management intern at Yellowstone Landscape in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more...

Horticulture Alumni Operates KAT Nursery

SchwopeTTory Schwope opened KAT Nurseries in 1997 and two years later, he graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in horticulture from Kansas State University. Tory defines the word, "entrepreneur." He quickly developed a vision for revolutionizing the industry. Since graduating Tory has built an incredible business that employs hundreds of people while contributing significantly to the horticultural industry; he is highly respected within the industry.

Tory frequently gives his time to interact with our horticulture students or to host on-site visits to KAT nursery in Olathe. In 2015, Tory donated all of the plants used in the Horticulture club patio that was built by the horticulture club. He also donated most of the plants in the landscape beds located on the east and south side of Throckmorton. He has also donated trees for Tree Campus USA events.

To read more about this impressive business owner, whose passion for the horticultural industry and vision for the future offers great promise to people considering a career in the urban landscapes of America. Read this complete article in Nursery Management.

Haresnape Receives Scholarships

MeganHHorticulture junior Megan Haresnape has been awarded very competitive national floriculture production and marketing scholarships from the American Floral Endowment and the Joseph Shinoda Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Much congratulations, Megan!

K-State Turf Faculty Take Leadership Roles in International Conference

Dale Bremer (Horticulture and Natural Resources, HNR), Jack Fry (HNR), Jared Hoyle (HNR), Steve Keeley (HNR), and Megan Kennelly (Plant Pathology) attended the 13th International Turfgrass Society Conference July 16 to 21 in New Brunswick, NJ. All KSU faculty served as technical editors, associate editors, or reviewers for manuscripts along with presenting their own papers. In addition, Fry chaired a "Zoysiagrass Symposium" which included presenters from Australia, Italy, South Korea, and the United States. Oral and poster presentations (and accompanying journal articles) presented:

  • Chabon, J. D. Bremer, J. Fry, and C. Lavis. 2017. Effects of soil moisture-based irrigation controllers, mowing height, and trinexapac-ethyl on tall fescue irrigation amounts and mowing requirements. Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 13:1–6 (2017). doi: 10.2134/itsrj2016.04.0242
  • Fry, J., A. Chandra, D. Genovesi, K. Morris, and M. Xiang. 2017. Winter injury of fine-textured interspecific Zoysia hybrids in the upper transition zone of the USA.
    Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 13:1–3. doi: 10.2134/itsrj2016.09.0757
  • Hoyle, J. and J. Reeves. 2017. Effect of colorant and glyphosate application timing on annual bluegrass and tall fescue control in dormant 'Meyer' zoysiagrass. Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 13:1–4. doi: 10.2134/itsrj2016.09.0828
  • Obasa, K., J. Fry, D. Bremer, and M. Kennelly. 2017. Evaluation of spring and fall fungicide applications for large patch management in zoysiagrass. Intntl. Turfgrass Research J. 13:1-7. doi: 10.2134/itsrj2016.04.0274
  • Peterson, K., D. Bremer, and J. Blonquist Jr. 2017. Estimating transpiration from turfgrass using stomatal conductance values derived from infrared thermometry. Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 13:1–6. doi: 10.2134/itsrj2016.09.0788
  • Raudenbush, Z. and S. Keeley. 2017. Cultivation reduces infestation of silvery-thread moss in a creeping bentgrass putting green. Int. Turfgrass Soc. Res. J. 13:1–6. doi: 10.2134/itsrj2017.02.0092

PMC Grad Student Travels to Viet Nam to Help Save Endangered Wildlife

AshleyKellyFor the next month (July 2017), Ashley Kelly has the special honor of living in a remote village in Cuc Phuong National Park, deep in the jungle of Northern Vietnam. She is working as a film-maker in residence with an organization called Save Vietnam's Wildlife, thanks to a collaboration with the Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

Save Vietnam's Wildlife are active on the front line of defense against the illegal wildlife trade in Asia. So far they have rescued over 700 animals including Pangolins, Binturong, Leopard Cats and Civets, with over 400 animals being successfully released back to the wild. They have also built a great little education centre with interactive interpretation far beyond what you would expect in this remote location, and cover the costs for local school groups to attend their education workshops! They provide anti-poaching training to park rangers and law enforcement and conduct research on the status of wild Pangolin populations, including radio-tracking and camera trapping. They also conduct social-science research on the wildlife knowledge of locals and their attitude towards consumptive and medicinal uses of wildlife, to develop targeted behavior change campaigns. They have successfully advocated for the removal of Pangolin scales from the list of medicines covered by insurance as well as the up-listing of all 8 Pangolin species to CITES Appendix 1, making it illegal for them to be traded.

Ashley will be assisting with the development of a media strategy and some short films to help raise awareness for the plight of Vietnamese wildlife and the incredible work being done to save them. She will also assist with the development of a behavior-change campaign and some more education resources, conducting an evaluation of their interpretation centre and hopefully putting together some reports based on the social-science data they have collected. Despite the rugged living conditions, sweltering heat, 100% humidity, huge monsoonal storms and a million insect bites, She is having an amazing time and look forward to sharing her stories with you all soon!

K-State Vic & Margaret Ball Intern at Swift Greenhouses

MarkisHill_BallInternMarkis Hill, a senior in Horticulture Production, was awarded a 3-month American Floral Endowment Vic and Margaret Ball Internship earlier this spring. Currently, Markis is in the middle of his internship at Swift Greenhouses in Gilman, IA. Swifts is a 4-acre wholesale perennial, annual and herb plug and potted plant grower. This was the first intern Swift's have had from K-State! During a recent visit to Swifts, Dr. Miller, had an opportunity to tour the facility and visit with Markis. Congratulations, Markis!

PMC Professors Skibins & Sharp Alaskan Bear Research Featured in Kansas City Star

LiveBearCamStoryThousands of people around the world are spending hours online this month watching a bear cam in Katmai National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska. It's livestreaming the action at the noisy, bustling falls on Brooks River, where the salmon are leaping out of the water and brown bears are trying to snag the slippery sockeyes. Read more...

U.S. National Parks

RSharpRyan Sharp, Assistant Professor in Park Management & Conservation was recently interviewed by KCET in Los Angeles about crowding in U.S. National Parks. The following video highlights this interview. Watch video.

Wildcats Reel in Third Bass Fishing National Championship in Five Years

Alsop_BlennTravis Blenn, senior in park management and conservation, and Kyle Alsop, a December 2016 graduate in mechanical engineering, brought home first place June 2 at the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship on Alabama's Lake Wheeler. Read more...

Eight Students Become Certified

Dry_suitsrescueIn April, Dr. Sid Stevenson (PMC Faculty and US Coast Guard Boat Captain) assisted John Miesner of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in certifying 8 PMC and WOEM students in the Dept of the Interior's Motorboat Operator Certification Course. A test of rescue techniques in the natatorium was part of the 3 day, primarily on-the-water course.

PMC Trip to Germany!

GermanyTrip2017PMC graduate and undergraduate students celebrate their time in the mountains of the Black Forest, in southern Germany, with their compatriots from the University of Freiburg. Spring 2017 marked the beginning of a new addition to the PMC course lineup, Heritage Interpretation - Germany.

This spring our students are exploring the parks of Germany and France to better understand international interpretation. This fall, students from the University of Freiburg will be spending 2 weeks in Manhattan, MO, and CO to better understand how we do things in the states.

FFA Floriculture CDE Contestants 'Flower Bomb' K-State Building

FFAevent_apr2017The department hosted nearly 200 high school students who participated in the FFA Nursery/Landscape and Floriculture Career Development Events on April 30. To learn a couple of design techniques and about how green walls work, the Floriculture contestants 'flower bombed' the Throckmorton lobby, which left a floral display that was perfectly timed for May Day.

Hummert International Supports K-State Horticulture

KSchneckHummertPlantersHere's a shout out to Hummert International for the many ways that they support K-State Horticulture. Hummert's has been sponsoring a scholarship for a Horticulture production student for over a decade; 2017 recipient Karen Schneck accepts her award from Hummert's Dan McGinnis in the photo at left.

The company also recently donated containers to the KSU Gardens that were planted with seasonal color by students, including Andrew Fox, Hanna Cahalan, and Nate Meier (pictured), who are currently taking the course Herbaceous Crop Production. The mixed planters will be auctioned at the upcoming Garden Party to fund student internships.

Thanks to all of our industry supporters for contributing so much to the success of K-State Horticulture!

Undergraduate Students Compete in Research Symposium


Last Friday, three undergraduate turfgrass science students completed in the Gamma Sigma Delta Undergraduate Research Poster Competition; Dani McFadden, Peyton South and Gage Knudson. Peyton South (right) received 1st place and a 100 dollar monetary prize.  Congrats to Peyton and a job well done to Dani (middle) and Gage (right)! Read more...

Fits to a 'Tee': Golf Is 'Fore' Everyone, and Economically It's a Great Time to Be a Golfer

FryGolfStoryJack Fry, professor of Turfgrass Science, says new options make golf affordable for everyone. Because of the golf industry's downsizing after the Great Recession, the sport is more affordable and accessible than ever, according to a golf course management expert at Kansas State University. Read more...

K-State Hosts National Horticulture Judging Competition

agconf2017K-State faculty hosted a Horticulture judging competition as part of the NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture) Judging Conference that was held by the College of Ag April 6-8, 2017. It was great to have so many horticulture students from 2- and 4-year hort programs from around the U.S. in Throckmorton Hall. Congrats to the winners! Watch video.

Horticulture Graduate Student Awarded First Place at K-State Graduate Research Forum

BraunPoster2017K-State HNR graduate student, Ross Braun competed in the poster competition against other K-State graduate students at the 2017 Kansas State Graduate Research, Arts, and Discovery Forum in Manhattan, KS. Ross placed 1st in the Agricultural Sciences poster session and was awarded a $500 scholarship prize, the title of his poster was “Nitrous Oxide Emissions in a Turfgrass Environment.” Congrats Ross!

Two Horticulture Students Present Posters

PostersSusi Algrim and Tyler Cribbs presenting their research posters at the George Wright Society conference in Norfolk, Virginia.

Google Maps as a Plant Identification Study Tool

HortTechCheck out the latest cover of HortTechnology! Former graduate student, Dr. Matt Wilson's scholarship of teaching and learning work, with Dr. Miller on Google Maps for the landscape plants courses is featured on the cover. Congratulations!

Fishing's Future Clinic Held at Throckmorton

FishingFuture1FishingFuture2Stevenson (PMC faculty) and Bill Horvath (Master Angler, Leavenworth) and the KDWPT hosted a Fishing's Future youth instructor training clinic here in Throckmorton, on Saturday, Feb 25.

Approximately 60 participants, including a dozen PMC or WOEM students, were certified (pending background checks) as a result of the workshop. Fishing's Future is a national program with substantial Kansas participation. One of the master angler instructors (far right) is the programs founder, Shane Wilson, who flew in from South Padre Island, TX.

K-State Hort Alum's Interiorscaping Business Provides Plants for Super Bowl Coverage

SuperBowlPlants1SuperBowlPlants2Hort alum Joanne Rush, located in Houston, TX, provided plants for ESPN's coverage of the 2017 Super Bowl. Rush's interiorscaping business, Thriving Botanicals, got the call a couple weeks before the big game to contract with ESPN for the set decorations. Wildcat Pride!

PMC Students Receive Award at Kansas Recreation & Park Association Annual Conference

StudAwardKRPAConf20172017 starts off with PMC students clinching award at Kansas Recreation and Park Association annual conference. PMC undergraduate and graduate students were out in force at this year's KRPA conference, held in Manhattan. Our students won the annual student leadership event and many volunteered throughout the 3-day conference as session moderators, registration/welcome assistants and general support.

Drs. Cable, Skibins, and Stevenson were there too. They were asked by the KRPA executive director to present keynote lectures on interpretation and connecting people to parks.

Three Kansas Arborist Association Scholarships Awarded

KAA_2017ScholarWinersThe Kansas Arborist Association (KAA) awarded three $2,000.00 scholarships to three tree-loving students. Students received the checks first-hand at the KAA awards banquet, January 12 at the Shade Tree Conference. From left to right, Dr. Cathie Lavis, Horticulture Scholarship Coordinator, Bruce Moore, Wichita, KS; Lauren Walz, Garden City, KS and Caitlin Carlson, Falun, KS.