I grew up just outside of Topeka, Kansas with a family linage in construction and farming. Both my grandparents had amazing gardens, basically a result of the Depression Era and Victory gardens. I started gardening at a young age and my dad built my first greenhouse, complete with heating and cooling, when I was in 9th grade. In high school I cared for the school greenhouse and participated in FFA my senior year, receiving a state award in Nursery Management. I went on to attend a community college, then graduated at Kansas State University. I managed a greenhouse operation in southeastern Kansas before coming to Lincoln, Nebraska to work for UNL. I managed the greenhouses and the research garden for the Department of Horticulture for 24 years prior to becoming a professor of practice in agronomy and horticulture for the last 11 years. My wife and I live outside of Lincoln, where we raised our eight children, some born to us and some we adopted. The house is almost empty but fills occasionally with family visits and game night!
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
My present position is associate professor of practice in horticulture. I am teaching introductory horticulture science laboratory, greenhouse operations & management, hydroponics and floral design I & II. I also do Extension work in specialty crop production, controlled environment agriculture, hops production and hydroponics.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
An opportunity presented itself where the Department of Horticulture needed someone with greenhouse experience and construction knowledge to support their operations, as well as assist them in getting the greenhouses in use at the time renovated as they were in tough condition. I didn’t think I’d stay as long as I did but I truly enjoy the diversity of the work I do and new challenges.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy working with students. It is rewarding to see their interest and excitement with new revelations, exploring new areas, or finding out ways they can manipulate and use plants.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I consider my greatest achievement my family, bringing together an eclectic group of individuals into a beautiful family. I truly enjoy seeing life through their eyes and their experiences.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I play piano for relaxation for myself; however, the church ladies twist my arm to play on occasion, but I can hide behind the fake plants so it’s sort of like playing by myself.
What is your life like outside of work?
Not too dramatic. For many years it’s been getting kids to activities, repairing cars (I dislike but necessary evil), mowing, house repairs, and more. This has changed drastically in the last year and I’m finding time to garden, take walks with my wife and two corgi’s, I built a hobby greenhouse to tinker in, built some bird houses and spend time with my grandson who loves tractor rides.