In Field Friday: Courtney Heiser

This week’s In the Field Friday is Courtney Heiser. Courtney will be transitioning to Columbus for the fall semester. She is originally from Attica, Ohio and is majoring in agricultural communication. Courtney has spent her summer with the Ohio Soybean Council in Worthington as their communications intern.

Her internship has kept her busy with several projects, including managing and generating content for social media platforms. She has been able to work on the Ohio Soybean News magazine and help develop new activities for their outreach programs. Her internship even allowed her to go to the Ohio State Fair and talk with Ohio consumers and farmers about the soybean checkoff program and other important information.

Courtney’s piece of advice for students was for them to get involved and try new things.

“Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities in front of you. ATI offers SO MANY opportunities for you to get involved and try new things. From helping others move in through the OWL program, stepping out of your comfort zone to travel abroad, scoring a campus job, networking with peers and faculty at club events, to joining an intramural team – you can find your fit and build life-long friendships as well as connections for your future, so take advantage of those opportunities!”

Her last piece of advice was to make sure that “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Being passionate and genuine will get you far.”

In Field Friday: Jessica Mermer

If you’ve ever picked up a potted orchid at the grocery store as a gift, chances are it was grown at Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio. Green Circle grows more than 8 million orchids annually and supplies orchids to Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and other major retailers, in Canada and across the United States. Jessica Mermer, who will be starting her second year in the greenhouse and nursery management program in August, is currently interning at Green Circle Growers.

With more than 100 acres of indoor growing space, Green Circle is one of the largest greenhouses in North America. In the course of her internship, Jessica rotated through several of Green Circle’s operations, including poinsettia production (yep, it’s summer, but poinsettia production is already in high gear for December), mums—one of Jessica’s duties was to program the robots that plant them—annual bedding plants, and, of course, orchids.

In the 30-acre orchid range, where employees use bicycles inside the greenhouses to zip from one area to another, Jessica collects data about all aspects of orchid growing conditions—air and soil temperature, humidity, and light are just a few of the data points she measures—as well as data about the plants themselves. “Our goal is to maximize our efficiency in orchid production so we can bring the best product possible to market,” Jessica says.

Data collection wasn’t the only thing skill she gained, however. As one of 700 employees in the orchid range, Jessica had lots of opportunities to see how people grow, too. “One of the best things was learning how people from all different backgrounds and skill sets work together as a team,” says Jessica.