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Meet The HortScholars

Meet The 2018 HortScholars

Melissa Eggleston - Michigan State University
Horticultural Science; minor Agribusiness Management

I love horticulture, because of the plants I’ve learned to cultivate and the amazing people I’ve met within the broad scope of the industry. After competing in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition this past March, I decided to intern with Brookwater Inc., an irrigation consultant company, in Pleasanton, California. One of my main goals with this internship is to learn how design an irrigation system with the most efficient use of water in mind. 


Coralie Farinas - The Ohio State University
Plant Pathology. PhD Candidate 

My interest in plant science started in high school, when I joined a French-Cameroon association where were tasked with reforesting the roadsides with endemic tree varieties. 
After I obtained my degree, I completed an internship with the Ohio State University exchange program at Timbuk Farm in Granville, Ohio. I then realized that research would allow me to help improve the production system. Hence, I got my bachelor’s in plant biology and am now a graduate student in the only ornamental laboratory of the plant pathology department at the Ohio State University. I wish to become an advocate for science’s increased role in the development of sustainable policies in the horticulture trade. 


Rhiannon Newton - West Virginia University

I have always loved plants, and as a small child, I preferred to carry around a potato instead of a blanket or toy. This was the first hint to my future career. When I got older, I began gardening with my mom and eventually took over responsibility of the garden. Last summer, I completed an internship at Plant Delights Nursery and currently work part time at the WVU Organic Farm. I will also be interning at Tagawa Greenhouses in Colorado and hope to work as a grower for a greenhouse or botanical garden. However, as a bona fide plant nerd, my ultimate dream is to own my own specialty nursery or greenhouse one day. 


Michael Nickel - Saint Louis Community College

I am currently working on my associate in applied science in horticulture at Saint Louis Community College in St. Louis, Missouri. My passion in the horticulture industry has been a long time coming. My father owned a landscaping company growing up, so I worked with plants my entire childhood. When I was around 10 or so, I purchased my first cacti and from there, it became an obsession. I own so many cacti and succulents that I’ve lost count. In the future, I want to focus heavily on cacti and succulent preservation and information. I would love to travel to multiple habitats around the world to photograph and document these species that we may never see again because of illegal poaching and destruction of habitat due to land development. I am also very interested in the preservation of plants native to Missouri and the removal of invasive species which threaten our native plants and ecosystems.


Raymond Odeh - University of Florida 
Horticultural Science; Masters

My interest and ultimate passion for horticulture and horticultural therapy (HT) developed through a series of early exposures and volunteer experiences. With robust experimental protocols, I hope to contribute quantitative and qualitative evidence to broaden support for the use of HT in hospitals, prisons, assisted-living facilities, schools, etc. With enhanced evidence-based support and clear communication of the range and magnitude of therapeutic benefits achievable by gardening, not only would more individuals share in the quality of life benefits associated with horticulture, but demand for plants and plant products would grow correspondingly; thus, benefiting green industries. Ultimately, horticulture as a therapeutic modality has the potential to expand green industries’ reach to consumers by satisfying the desire to enhance human health and wellness. 


Aaron Sledge - Pennsylvania College of Technology
Horticulture; Plant Production Emphasis

Plants have fascinated me my whole life, but my bigger passion for horticulture blossomed when I became a high school intern at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My passion has continued to bloom, especially as I manage the conservatory greenhouse at my college, and continue to work with the outstanding horticulture team at Phipps. In the Fall of 2018, I will begin at Pennsylvania State University to complete my B.S. in Plant Science with an emphasis on Horticulture. Horticulture is my passion because plants are beautifully fascinating, and inspire curiosity. Getting people to have an appreciation for houseplants is something that I hope to accomplish, because science is revealing the positive effects that plants have on our physical and emotional well-being.