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Growing plants about nurturing potential

If you stepped inside Brittany Weerts’ greenhouse, the first thing you would notice is how beautiful, colorful, and organized the plants look.  Giving great time and detail to keep the greenhouse looking its best is just another day in the life of Brittany Weerts, who earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Purdue in 2018.

“Each tiny plant holds so much potential, and I have a direct role in making that come alive,” she explained. “Everything I do affects the growing of nursery stock.”

Weerts is an assistant grower at Utopian Plants, the sister company of Brehob Nurseries in Indianapolis. She said she often has her hands full. She is responsible for the plants, pruning, potting, tracking inventory, and monitoring the plants’ maturity and health. She grew up in rural Remington, Indiana, which spurred her love for nature and all things green.

But her love for the horticulture industry started with a part-time job at Markle Farm & Greenhouses in Monon, Indiana. Being able to do hands-on work outdoors, especially work that involved nature, was what hooked her interest and began her passion for plants, Weerts said.

From there, she decided she wanted to make a career of it, so she went to Purdue to study horticulture. She sensed an instant fit within the horticultural programs and loved the enthusiasm of the faculty members.

Weerts describes horticulture as demanding, exciting, and fulfilling, all at once. At Brehob, she is responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of plants. Weerts finds the work that she does to be important.

For her, the work is about more than just aesthetics. Weerts said the most crucial contribution of horticulture is that it keeps our world green, shaded, and beautiful. She believes that plants and the greenhouse industry are taken for granted.

“Imagine a neighborhood without trees, or a city without parks, or a home without at least a few flowers. Horticulture helps us live happier, safer lives,” Weerts said.

That’s why Weerts wants to raise more awareness about horticulture and to inspire others to learn more about it. She does that by spreading the word about the importance of horticulture. She also encouraged those looking for a career to think about opportunities in horticulture.

“There are not many people currently entering this field. If people present themselves well, they have a chance at having a great career,” she said.

Brittany Weerts stands in a greenhouse full of plants at Brehob Nurseries in Indianapolis. Weerts earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Purdue in 2018 and says that her work is demanding, exciting and fulfilling all at once. Photo provided by Brittany Weerts 

Like the plants she cares for, Weerts sees her current job as a chance to grow.

“There are so many skills and roles that go into this industry,” she explains. “Right now, I’m just soaking in all I can about growing, and paying attention to areas where I naturally excel.”

She said she may try working in other areas of the industry, such as communications or marketing, but for now, Weerts said she enjoys the hands-on engagement and challenges that her career offers. She knows that it is making a difference.

“I love knowing that the plants that I’m growing today will eventually be in someone’s yard blooming. Care for them well, and we get to watch it mature and blossom into something that will put a smile on somebody’s face.”

Source: Purdue University (Audrey Halsey)

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