Scholarship Interns Working in Sherman Gardens

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Sherman Gardens
— Photos by Christopher Trela

A pair of recent college graduates will be working in the garden this summer at Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar.

Agricultural and environmental plant sciences seniors Conor Stephen and Jesse Zubiate-Kelly were previously selected as the 2018-19 Haskell Scholarship award winners, SLG officials wrote in the Gardens’ newsletter on July 13.

They will split a full scholarship and are invited to take part in Sherman Library and Gardens summer internship program. The Scholarship program covers California resident fees for tuition, books and supplies, room and board, personal expenses and transportation costs for an academic year.

Stephen and Zubiate-Kelly were both ecstatic and surprised to learn they had been selected.

“It was wonderful to be awarded this prestigious scholarship in recognition of all I have accomplished in and out of the classroom,” Stephen said in the SLG newsletter.

Last year’s scholarship winner, Gage Willey called his six-week summer internship at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar, “tremendously enjoyable.”

Willey, along with two high school interns and the garden’s professional horticulturists, watered, planted, weeded and otherwise maintained the gardens. The 2.2-acre retreat includes a variety of plants displayed in inviting gardens, patios and conservatories.

Conor Stephen
— Courtesy Sherman Library & Gardens

“The garden has a little bit of everything,” Willey continued. Because of the location, “they can grow everything — from tropicals and California natives to roses, palms and ferns. It has a mix of unique plants and gardens.”

Stephen is a summa cum laude graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He obtained his degree in agriculture and environmental plant sciences with a concentration in environmental horticulture science. Stephen is interested in pursuing a career in greenhouse production, according to the Sherman Library and Gardens announcement.

“During his internship with the Sherman Library and Gardens, we hope to diversify his experiences further by taking him out of the greenhouse and putting him in the garden,” SLG officials wrote. “Growing plants in a controlled environment is a science, but growing plants in the garden is an art.”

It will provide a perfect opportunity for Stephen to learn about horticulture, as gardens are the intersection of science, art, and technology, officials explained.

Following his six-week internship at the CdM garden, he will be attending graduate school at Cornell University where he will be working on an impatiens breeding project.

Jesse Zubiate-Kelly
— Courtesy Sherman Library & Gardens

Zubiate-Kelly graduated summa cum laude with his degree in environmental horticulture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in addition to an associate degree in sustainable agriculture he already holds from Santa Rosa Junior College.

He always knew he wanted to work outdoors but he found his passion and love of plants when a post high school job at Lowe’s put him in the nursery department.

Zubiate-Kelly has been able to study and work in many aspects of horticulture from the production side to working with the public on retail sales and most recently as a succulent grower for the horticulture unit at Cal Poly. Although he believes it was through his work on an organic farm that he realized the importance of sustainability in the agriculture and horticulture industry he also realized “as much as I enjoyed farming and promoting sustainable and organic practices, I realized agriculture wasn’t the field for me.”

Through his education and working at Cal Poly’s Leaning Pine Arboretum, Zubiate-Kelly now has his sights set on a career in botanic gardens, arboretums or in native plant restoration work. Jesse feels this career path would be rewarding by “giving back to my community, preserving the natural beauty of the world and creating a sustainable future which can be enjoyed by the many generations to come.”

For more information, visit slgardens.org.

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