Without the traditional lei, graduating students wearing caps and gowns do not quite look complete.
This time of year, the Poly Plant Shop sells orchid leis, graduation arrangements and bouquets that are especially popular among horticulture and crop science majors, however, they are certainly not limited to them, Poly Plant Shop manager Desiree Davis said.
“We hope that all students and parents will come up the hill to see us,” Davis said.
Just as all majors are welcome to purchase graduation pieces, all majors are able to work at the Poly Plant Shop. The majors of the current employees range from environmental horticulture science and landscape architecture to liberal arts and food science.
“The horticulture students get to constantly practice and expand their knowledge that will help them out in the field on an everyday basis,” Davis said. “Our other majors get to share in their passion for plants and expand their floral design expertise.”
Poly Plant Shop sales manager Aly Crofford said she takes a high number of orders for center pieces, especially for department award ceremonies and banquets during May and June. The arrangements are typically mixed with bright spring-colored flowers such as sunflowers and roses.
“We even do plant rentals and tree rentals here,” Crofford said. “The engineering department rented a few trees for their awards ceremony recently.”
A typical day of work for Crofford involves taking orders, watering, plant maintenance and managing outside sales. Orders can be taken in the shop, over the phone or online and the plant shop is able to do free deliveries on campus.
Crofford said the Poly Plant Shop makes arrangements year-round with flowers that are grown in nearby greenhouses. Students who work there get a hands-on experience in all aspects of garden center management and operation.
“If you want to work here, you need to want to be outdoors and be willing to pull weeds,” Crofford said.
As manager, Davis said all of the Poly Plant Shop employees work so hard that it makes her job fun. Outside of the Poly Plant Shop, horticulture and crop science students can gain experience in their field through numerous enterprise projects such as the poinsettia project in the winter.
She said the career options for horticulture and crop science majors after graduation are diverse and the networking possibilities that come from the industry are endless. Graduates can go into sales, landscape account management, pest arborist specialties, floriculture production, floral design and more.
“We have graduates all over the world working at botanic gardens,” Davis said. “Knowing you are a Cal Poly horticulture graduate gives you that extra leg up over your competition from other schools.”
Mike Magnani graduated with a degree in agricultural and environmental plant sciences and a concentration in turfgrass and sports field management this past winter quarter. He is now the assistant superintendent at Cypress Golf Course in Monterey.
“I did an internship at Cypress Golf Course the previous summer and was primarily in charge of maintaining the grass,” Magnani said. “I had always wanted to grow grass and take care of it.”
At his full-time job now, Magnani is in charge of day-to-day operations, managing 25 employees, the pesticides and fertilizers. Magnani heard about the internship from a guest speaker that came in to one of his turfgrass and sports management classes.
“Horticulture and crop science students can not only go into sports turf management, but also home and garden landscaping, nursery production, plant production and there’s a high demand now for plant protection,” Magnani said.
Dani Ruais is another recent horticulture and crop science graduate who now works at Cal Poly as a student recruiter for the department. Graduates of the department are in great demand and typically there are more internship and job opportunities than there are students to fill them.
“Our faculty is right there beside us helping in any way they can and I think that is what makes our graduates so successful,” Davis said.