Student Horticulture

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Employment as a Student Horticulturalist

Written by Crystal Schupbach

“Did you wear your digging boots?” some friends on the grounds crew ask Sienna Clement, ’20, who works for the campus horticulturist, Angie Girdham. These jokes get used over and over, but the familiar charm of Sienna’s on-campus job never leaves. She has been working for Angie since her freshman year, when she happened to walk past an on-campus job fair wearing a decorative shirt with flowers on it. This caught the attention of the person running the booth.

“It’s not something I would have thought of or found on my own, but it’s been a huge blessing,” Sienna reminisced.

Seeing the beauty of a sunny day outside while sitting in a room filled with flourescent lighting can be draining. Sienna says her job as a student horticulturist combats this with its unique work environment and flexible hours. Jade Juniper, ’22, who also works with Angie, agrees. Some days their job involves riding around campus with Angie’s John Deere gator or pickup truck, upkeeping the flower beds on campus. Other days they tend to the plants in the greenhouse at Hayden Park.

Their jobs allow them an inside view at how Hillsdale’s campus stays beautiful throughout the year. Whether it’s watching and assisting Angie trouble-shoot inevitable insect problems in the Strosacker greenhouse, taking trips out to the John A. Halter Shooting Sports Center for upkeep, or creating decor for the College’s 175th anniversary gala, the tasks are essential in ensuring the aesthetic of campus. One of Sienna’s favorite projects has been helping plant the magnolia trees behind the Jefferson statue, which was eye-catching enough to be on the cover of an admissions pamphlet.

Sienna admires Angie. She’s the kind of boss who keeps track of many tasks at once, is professional, and cares a lot about her employees. A testament of Angie’s love for the College’s students and horticulture is the plant therapy class she developed with Director of Health Services Brock Lutz. Through these classes, Brock and Angie give students the opportunity to plant their own herbs, which symbolize certain attributes—for example, lavender simulates a calm environment, and rosemary boosts a feeling of alertness and attention. The purpose of the sessions is to create a sense of well-being for the student who is gardening.

Jade, who has just begun working for Angie this semester, also attests to Angie’s care and insightfulness. She says some of her favorite parts of the job involve conversations she’s had with Angie, whom she first met when she wrote a story about the greenhouse expansion at Hayden Park for The Collegian. Jade likes being able to work with her hands and says getting out of the classroom to work with the earth is very therapeutic.

“It’s really rewarding to see the beauty that you can contribute to,” Jade said.

Crystal Schupbach Crystal Schupbach, ’20, is a Michigan native studying psychology and journalism. A few of her favorite things include dogs, summertime concerts, and garage sales–in that order.

Published in December 2019