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Horticulture student recommends becoming involved in student clubs

Horticulture senior Emma Brinks found community in the Student Horticulture Association. Her long-term goal is to own a nursery of her own that focuses on native plants and natural ecosystems.

Emma Brinks is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Horticulture with a minor in writing. The undergraduate Horticulture program integrates plant and soil science, entomology, pathology, technology and business management to prepare students to meet the challenges of an expanding multibillion-dollar industry in intensively cultivated, high-value crops.

“I love working with my hands and being in the outdoors and working with plants and in the gardens and greenhouses has been the perfect intersection of that. I wasn’t sure about horticulture when I first arrived, but I knew that even if I changed majors, the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has a lot of different, specific and accomplished plant science programs I could explore.”

She added, “The university is large, but CANR is pretty small in contrast, so it’s easy to find a niche. There are so many student clubs and opportunities on campus to get involved with any hobbies, interests or passions you may have.”

Brinks is an active member of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE), the Honors College and the Student Horticulture Association (SHA) where she serves as an officer and the spring show grower. She has also participated in multiple networking and career development events through her involvement in the SHA, as well as organizing weekly meetings and volunteer activities which include interacting with industry leaders.

“I have found a great community in the Student Horticulture Association. Joining the club was the best decision I made my freshman year. I met so many great people and have gained so many hands-on experiences through the association’s spring show, plant sale and other events.”

Following graduation, Brinks aspires to work in ecosystem restoration, growing and installing native landscapes in areas that have been impacted by erosion, development and other environmental devastation. She has a long-term goal of owning and managing a nursery of her own that focuses on native plants and natural ecosystems.

Brinks is one of the 2022 CANR Alumni Association Scholarship recipients.


Emma Brinks

Name: Emma Brinks

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Mich.

Major/Concentration: Horticulture, BS, with a horticultural science concentration

Expected graduation date: May 2023

Why did you choose your major and why MSU?
I love working with my hands and being in the outdoors and working with plants and in the gardens and greenhouses has been the perfect intersection of that. I wasn’t sure about horticulture when I first arrived, but I knew that even if I changed majors, the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has a lot of different, specific and accomplished plant science programs I could explore.

Who or what inspired your interest in the major you selected?
My family always maintained a large garden and my sisters and I spent a lot of summers when we were little working with our parents in the dirt and eating broccoli and tomatoes from the plants.

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?
I have found a great community in the Student Horticulture Association. Joining the club was the best decision I made my freshman year. I met so many great people and have gained so many hands-on experiences through the association’s spring show, plant sale and other events.

What do you want others to know about this major?
You get to learn a lot of practical, hands-on skills from the classes you take and everyone you meet in the industry is so friendly and excited to see that you are joining their ranks. It’s a really down-to-earth, welcoming community to become a part of.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?
The university is large, but CANR is pretty small in contrast, so it’s easy to find a niche. There are so many student clubs and opportunities on campus to get involved with any hobbies, interests or passions you may have. You get to take a lot of classes with the same professors and people. You can make the school as big or small as you want.

Any thoughts or advice for current or new students?
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people in your classes and at club meetings because people are friendly, and the people are what make classes and activities fun and exciting.

What are your future plans?
I’m hoping to work in ecosystem restoration, growing and installing native landscapes in areas that have been impacted by erosion, development and other environmental devastation.

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