She’s a senior at Sam Houston State University studying plant and soil science now, but Gabby Castaneda has always shown an interest in the world of horticulture and how she could use her talents to support the industry.
“I really got a lot of passion towards [horticulture] in high school,” she says. She was a member of her local FFA chapter and worked a lot with the floriculture team. In fact, she credits her involvement in that program for leading her to study at Sam Houston State University. “We would visit Sam Houston for state and regional competitions,” she says. “So, I feel like that’s what brought me here.”
She will graduate in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil studies, but her interests reach beyond her studies. Castaneda is involved with her school’s plant and soil science club, where members collaborate on research with professors. Recently, Castaneda was working on a research project focusing on fertilizers.
“I was doing an experiment on different types of grasses and types of fertilizers and how they both work together and impact the outcome of the grass,” she says. She credits her school for giving her the tools for the hands-on parts of this industry. “[The club] really helps me develop more training in when it comes to national competitions,” she says. She recently participated in a national competition that focused on pest management. She spent time with her professors going over lecture notes and looking into new areas of research that she didn’t learn in class to ensure she was ready.
“I definitely had the help from my professors to help me with that because it was just so much … there are so many different pests and diseases,” she says.
A recent biology course sparked an interest in the area of plant pathology. She says she is looking at furthering her education to get more specialized training in the area and be able to help those in the industry when she graduates. “I’m very passionate about working with these people and helping to help the crops that we eat every day,” Castaneda says.
She’s set her sights on some potential career options that will combine her knowledge and her passion for social good.
“I would love to be a consultant for these farmers and go out there and tell them, ‘Hey, this is what’s wrong with the crop,’ and give them a solution to their problems,” she says. “There’s more to it than just our economic crops, too … like our landscape crops and even our lawns.”
As she enters the work force and continues her education, Castaneda sees many growth opportunities in the industry.
“I feel like this industry is just growing so fast and we do need students who are focusing their time on helping out with the bigger picture,” she says. “I feel like it’s something that we all have to work around even if it’s just getting involved outdoors and learning about these things. I feel like it will go a really long way.”
The author is assistant editor of sister publication Lawn & Landscape magazine.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘HORTHAT’
BRED BY MONROVIA
How long has it been on the market?
Introduced in 2018
Consumer care requirements
Just as with any hydrangea, regular water and respite from hot afternoon sun
Rounded and compact
Grows to height/width
3 to 4 feet tall and wide
Partial shade to partial sun
Container combination ideas
As they will quickly fill a container, they’re typically planted alone. That said, anything that has the spill factor can be added.
Hydrangeas are amazing in containers or massed as a hedge. Try them in pairs of large pots flanking a door, gate or path, or grouped against a fence where the form can be best silhouetted.
Many improvements to the species have been made, most notably that this variety (like all the Seaside Serenade collection) reblooms, even in warmer, more humid zones. It is a tetraploid and is distinguished by stronger, thicker stems, a reliably compact habit and thicker leaves that better resist heat, humidity and wind.
As the year draws to a close, it’s helpful to evaluate where you are as a leader and organization. Are you stressed? Feeling overworked? Focused on the negative with yourself, your business, employees or customers? If so, your team is probably stressed and critical, and you’re most likely experiencing employee and customer turnover.
Or … are you grateful for the business you own or lead? Are you appreciative of your vendors, customers and staff and all they bring to the table? Better yet, are you regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation to those around you?
I’ve long stated, “As the leader goes, so goes the team.” Whether positive or negative, your attitude and leadership permeate your workplace and greatly impact productivity and profitability.
If you haven’t already keyed into gratitude and appreciation, it’s time to consider their effects on individuals as well as your business. Oxford defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It also defines appreciation as “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”
Gratitude and appreciation are good for your business. They help you attract and retain outstanding employees. Furthermore, individuals indicate they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Earn a reputation as someone who values and acknowledges hard work, and people will want to work for you.
Gratitude also positively benefits individuals. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, research indicates gratitude can “lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide … Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication adherence.”
Lastly, gratitude builds trust and engenders customer loyalty. Buyers choose where they do business, and it’s far easier to retain them than to continually find new ones. Think how you feel when a business you utilize knows your name, says thank you, offers perks and lets you know of things ahead of the general public.
The following are ways to cultivate a gratitude attitude:
Look for the positive. It’s always there, even when things go wrong. Make a mistake and you can beat yourself up, or you can be grateful that you are wiser and ready for the next time. Teach your employees to do the same and you’ll reap the rewards of a growth culture.
Focus on what is working. If the vast majority of your business is working well, the majority of your words should center around what is effective. When the positive receives attention, it gets repeated. Additionally, if you focus on the positive, when you need to address a problem, it’s far easier for others to hear and be invested in fixing it.
Say thank you. It costs virtually nothing to say thank you. Failure to express gratitude however, negatively impacts employees, customers and your bottom line.
Regularly identify at least three things you’re grateful for. Each time you do, you move yourself into a more productive zone. On tough days, your list may be water, air and shelter. It’s even more effective when you choose to focus on the people who work for and with you, and the customers who keep your doors open.
In addition to improving your well-being, expressing gratitude and appreciation to bosses, peers, management, employees, suppliers and customers, ensures your stake-holders feel valued. That’s a leadership game-changer every time.
Dr. Sherene McHenry, The People IQ Expert™, works with organizations who want to improve their people skills so they can increase engagement, productivity and profitability. Learn more at sherenemchenry.com.