Congratulations to Dustin Trychta, a West Virginia University horticulture student who was selected as WVNLA’s 2018 Marcus W. Rennix Memorial Scholarship winner. After graduating from high school in 1998, Dustin entered the army and was stationed as a cook in Budingen, Germany, for nearly seven years. He was honorably discharged in 2005 as a sergeant. He then worked as a civilian in security and quality control before settling into a 10-year stint in appliance installation.
Dustin’s interest in horticulture began with cleanup of the yard of his first home, which had been neglected by the previous owner. After removing weeds and stumps, and regrading his yard to solve some runoff issues, Dustin tackled his first full-scale landscape project in his own yard. Then, learning as he went, he began planning and installing residential landscapes for coworkers and family.
Later, his horticultural interests broadened beyond general landscaping to giant vegetable gardening. This interest would later lead to his display of his giant gourd, “Pebbles,” in WVU’s student union as part of Mountaineer Week festivities. Dustin also provided additional oversized gourds, which were hollowed out to be “boats,” for the first Giant Pumpkin Regatta Boat Race, held in Morgantown last fall.
Below, Dustin offers more information about his interesting background and future plans.
What brought you to WVU?
My wife, Kirsha Trychta’s, career as a law professor was a catalyst in our decision to become Mountaineers. She was offered a job here. A large factor in the decision was that I could finally pursue a degree in horticulture. It was a decision for two careers, rather than just one.
How do you think your experience as a nontraditional student with military background prepares you for a career in horticulture?
My military experience is a tremendous help in both completing my education and starting a career in horticulture. As a former cook in the military, I am familiar with working long and varied hours while performing strenuous tasks. The military taught me the value of waking early and resting late when deadlines are fast approaching. The military, in general, requires a broad set of skills, much like the horticulture industry. It also matured me and instilled leadership qualities that will be necessary when I expand my work into the employment of others.
How is your college experience different from that of traditional students?
Most notable is my understanding that I only get out of my education what I’m willing to put into it. Most college students are here because their parents told them they had to go to college, while others want to be here but are unsure what they want to do in life. I am fortunate enough to have lived some life prior to school and to know exactly what I want to study. I also very much appreciate coming home to my peaceful backyard garden every day, rather than a dorm room.
You have expressed an interest in starting a small-scale nursery specializing in the grafting of ornamental hardwoods. That is a very specific goal. How will you get there?
I have been giving that question a lot of thought. My educators and mentors tell me that is not the most logical idea, especially in Morgantown, where I live. However, my heart tells me that there is nothing I cannot accomplish, once I am determined to do it. The answer probably lies somewhere in between. If I pursue that dream, I know it will take dedication to my craft and long hours, often without a paycheck. It will take support from my wife and family, as well as continuing relations with industry professionals and members of organizations such as WVNLA, who can provide valuable insight.
You mentioned volunteer activities. Where do you volunteer?
The main place I volunteer is at WVU in the organic farm, where I display giant pumpkins for school activities. I also volunteer for various projects at school and through the WVU Horticulture Club. I partnered with North Elementary School in their fourth-grade gardening program, and I have helped build or repair high tunnels and raised beds, and amend soil. I helped erect a high tunnel for Operation Welcome Home in Mylan Park, which is designed to teach local veterans how to extend the growing season and increase self-sustainability. I also auctioned off a party in my giant-pumpkin patch to raise money for a program in WVU’s College of Law. Agriculture students from Trinidad and Tobago attended the party, and I taught them about techniques we use to increase efficiency and yields.
What are your hobbies/interests?
My wife (who is a teaching associate professor and director of the Academic Excellence Center at WVU’s College of Law) and I love to travel together. We like to visit new places but also enjoy amusement parks and thrill rides. We enjoy puzzle games and trivia, and the occasional bingo night with her mother. We are planning a dream vacation when I graduate to tour the West Coast and see the majestic redwoods.
Do you think it is likely that you will remain in West Virginia after your 2019 graduation?
As of now, I have no intention of leaving West Virginia. When we moved here, we bought a home and intended to put down roots. Morgantown has been very kind to us and West Virginia is a beautiful state. I can’t promise that I will be here in five years, but if you had asked me five years ago where I would be, I wouldn’t have thought it would be here. No matter where life takes me, I will always hold West Virginia close to my heart.
I would like to thank WVNLA for supporting me and my education, and also for its support of the WVU Horticulture Club. It is in great part due to WVNLA that WVU students compete annually at the National Association of Landscape Professionals Collegiate Landscaping Competition. The opportunity there is great for industry exposure and networking practice at the focused job fair. Employers at the job fair offer actual job and internship opportunities. Thank you for your continued support.
You’ll want to mark September 8 on your calendar now. That’s the date WVNLA is partnering with Proven Winners to cosponsor the Proven Winners Landscape Roadshow at The Greenbrier. This full-day event at one of West Virginia’s finest resorts will feature experts from Proven Winners talking about new and exciting plant introductions, design tips and a behind-the-scenes tour of The Greenbrier’s beautiful grounds. WVNLA’s own Bob Barnitz of Bob’s Market and Greenhouses and Jason Testman of TerraCare will also speak.
CEU credits will be available and lunch will be provided for $20.
Space is limited, so register soon. For details and to register, click here.
Prepare to be inspired and informed at the 2018 Winter Symposium on Jan. 26 in Charleston. Speakers with backgrounds in design, outdoor lighting, public gardens, plant research, software design, marketing, and labor are poised to present concepts and answer questions. The 2018 conference will be held at Embassy Suites.
As usual, two sessions will run simultaneously, one with a focus on design elements and the other featuring successful business practices. Attendees may connect with colleagues over breaks and lunch and hear from other WVNLA members and horticulture and landscape architecture students from WVU during a post-lunch forum.
Cost to attend is $50 for WVNLA members and $100 for nonmembers. To see the day’s schedule, click here.Register For This Event
NatureScape Lighting owner Michael Deo will present “Designing a lighted landscape.” Michael is the president and founder of NatureScape Lighting in New Jersey, where he is an award-winning lighting designer. Since he is also formally trained in landscape design, his lighting projects reflect a deep knowledge of horticulture. He is keenly aware of how plants change, not only with the seasons but also over time and how each will react to light.
Richard Hawke of the Chicago Botanic Garden will discuss “Top performing plants from trials” as well as “Green roof plant trials.” Richard is the plant evaluation manager for the botanic garden. He’ll hone his presentations to include plants selected to thrive in local horticultural zones, which he points out is a more inclusive list than those that will survive Chicago’s winters.
Timothy Tilghman of Untermyer Gardens will present a fascinating look at the garden’s “Past, Present and Potential.” Timothy is the horticulturist at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, New York. In the 1920s and 1930s, the privately owned Untermyer Gardens were among the most celebrated in the United States. Sixty gardeners were employed to maintain the 150-acre estate. The gardens languished after the owner’s death in the 1940s, but are being restored today with Timothy at the helm.
Tim Edick of Unilock Pavers will walk attendees through a demonstration on “3-D Design of hardscapes with software.” Unilock is a manufacturer of concrete interlocking paving stones and segmental wall products.
Kerry Scott, or an associate of MASLabor will shed light on the evolving challenges of hiring seasonal workers through H2B Visas. Help is available, but the process is complicated. Hear the details as the MASLabor representative presents “Wading through H2B.”
Dave Tucker, who developed CLIP software, will speak on two topics, both geared toward improving business systems, processes and profit through technology. Dave is the president of Sensible Software. He developed CLIP software to efficiently handle the routing, scheduling, and reporting needs of lawn care companies. He will present “Motivating employees: how to make your employees think like you do?” and “Systems: the name of the game. Creating a business that runs itself”
Michael Deo of NatureScape, who is also speaking on lighting design (above), will fill out the topic with a presentation on “Lighting as a profit center.”
Profits Plus speaker Tom Shay will present “Strategies to win in a changing economy.” As consumers change the way they do business, owners must adapt to survive. Tom is a fourth generation small business owner who has written and spoken extensively on small business management.Register For This Event
Zackary Grossl, a junior majoring in landscape architecture at West Virginia University, was recently selected as the 2017 recipient of the Marcus W. Rennix Memorial Scholarship. Zack graduated from Greenbrier West High School and is the son of Dale Grossl and Tina Grossl.
Zack didn’t start his college career in landscape architecture, but childhood memories and teenage work experience drew him to it.
“I enrolled at WVU in the pre-pharmacy program in 2013, and by mid-semester I knew that I didn’t belong there. I then found landscape architecture,” Zack said.
On his scholarship application, Zack described his early experiences and growing interest in landscape architecture this way: “Throughout my life, I was always up and doing something outside. Being outside ranged from being in the woods hunting with my father to playing football in an open field. I worked at a landscaping business throughout high school, and seeing a project completed was very rewarding, but I knew there had to be more to this than just placing the plants. I wanted to know who was making the bigger decisions.”
Zack finds the variety of work in the green industry appealing. He is interested in all aspects of it, including design, installation, plant production, and sales.
According to WVU landscape architecture Assistant Professor Elisabeth Orr, Zack has earned a reputation among his instructors for being an intelligent problem solver, as well as an attentive, friendly student. His mastery of course work and his good rapport with fellow students led Orr to ask him to be a teaching assistant. Competition is stiff for these positions. Orr said it is a “significant honor” to be chosen.
“As a native West Virginian, I am very proud of exceptional in-state students like Zack. I expect him to continue to excel in our program and to be an accomplished professional in the field after he graduates,” Orr said.
Upon graduation, Zack hopes to find a position in a firm with strong ecological design principles, in which he can work on a variety of projects. “My desire in landscape architecture is to design everything from large-scale urban design to small-scale projects. In the everyday world, everyone is influenced by the surrounding landscape. I hope to find a position in a firm that allows me to be as creative as I can be, so that I can help create a more beautiful landscape.”
We wish him every success.
We welcome new members to West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association.
Advanced Tree & Lawn Care
P.O. Box 876
Hurricane, WV 25526
Arborist, landscape design, construction and maintenance
2 Goshen View Drive
Kenna, WV 25248
Educator, landscape maintenance, perennial nursery, nursery retail, wholesale nursery.
Greenscapes Lawn Care
Natasha and Joey Price
P.O. Box 661
Daniels, WV 25832
208 Sunflower Street
Princeton, WV 24739
Landscape and lawn maintenance.
Native Havens, LLC
27 Powers Drive
Kearneysville, WV 25430
Landscape artchitect/designer, landscape construction, landscape and lawn maintenance, Certified Professional Horticulturist (Pennsylvania)
Premier Landscapes & Lawncare, Inc.
Justin S. White
121 Holland Ave.
Morgantown, WV 26501
Landscape construction, lawn and landscape maintenance, hardscape design and installation, landscape lighting
Under new management:
P.O. Box 13617
Charleston, WV 25312
Landscape construction, landscape and lawn maintenance, irrigation
Congratulations to Amanda Hamilton, who was recently selected as the 2016 recipient of the Marcus W. Rennix Memorial Scholarship. A junior horticulture major at West Virginia University, Hamilton grew up in Raleigh County and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. She was chosen for the award based on her excellent grades, involvement in student activities and glowing teacher and employer recommendations.
Hamilton’s interest in plants started when she was a child. She loved playing outdoors and in her family’s gardens, where they grew lots of vegetables, herbs and flowers. In high school, Hamilton excelled in biology. Her teacher, Ms. Clark, encouraged students to excel and to consider careers in the sciences. For Hamilton, she recommended agronomy or horticulture.
“After some investigation of what the field of horticulture included, I fell in love. It was the perfect mix of biology, chemistry, art and hands-on work,” she said.
Hamilton encourages other students to consider careers in the green industry. “Any student who doesn’t want to spend their working career in a cubicle from 9 to 5 should consider horticulture or the green industry,” she said. She finds cultivation particularly rewarding.
In addition to succeeding in her course work and being involved in activities such as the Horticulture Club at WVU, Hamilton has held two enriching internships. At The Greenbrier resort, she developed an interest in public grounds maintenance. She credits her employers there with giving her both hands-on skills and lessons about management.
“I learned that every garden had a history and a value to cherish. I learned how to cherish it through my coworkers and the guests at the resort, who would approach us just to tell us how beautiful the grounds were,” Hamilton said.
Her second internship was with Bob’s Market and Greenhouses in Mason County. This large-scale production facility gave her a new perspective on the industry’s demands and challenges. After working there, she saw “what it takes to produce the petunias, and all the hands required to grow and harvest the seeds we buy in paper envelopes each year. We saw why the costs keep rising and all of the sacrifices our very own planet makes just so we can enjoy these delicate delights.”
After she graduates in 2017, Hamilton hopes to land a job maintaining public or historic grounds, or a botanic garden. She is interested in helping people understand a garden’s history and how plants connect to the past, the environment and to people.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Archive of American Gardens recently selected a Charleston garden designed by Lynne Schwartz-Barker for inclusion in its Garden Club of America archive. The project involved Lynne and her husband and Flowerscape co-owner Jerry Barker, their son Eamon Barker and business partner Chris Awaldt. Read all about the garden at the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
You’ll send your trees and shrubs off to a healthy new home when you include how-to planting instructions for customers. Download and print (front and back) the How to Plant Trees guide. Cut into thirds for a helpful hand-out.