By Dr. Slade Howell
Josiah Isaacs, a sophomore at Watauga High School, attended Horticulture Camp this past summer at N. C. State University. The camp in its fifth year, sponsored by the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, allows high school sophomores and juniors to experience and learn about a wide range of horticulture topics in a university setting.
The camp’s tuition of $550 was supplemented by a scholarship of $250 awarded to Isaacs by Watauga County Master Gardeners, $150 deposit was waived by the university, and the remainder of the balance was earned by Isaacs through jobs he did before camp.
According to Isaacs the week long camp this summer proved packed with subjects related to the cultivation, science, and management of gardens, landscapes, and farms. Workshops and field trips were centered around plant identification and propagation, weed and disease control, farm and nursery management, culinary skills, and even molecular biology involving DNA adaptation and genetics. Outdoor adventures included pruning techniques and the art of tree climbing. Not of least importance, the group was exposed to careers accessible in the “green industry” and educational options available to attain employment in those areas.
Camp attendees got to experience campus life through dormitory lodging, and campus meals. At the end of the week, each student gave a presentation to parents pertaining to their individual experience. As for Josiah, his favorite activity involved plant propagation. He learned to prepare seed for genetic testing of DNA in the biotechnology lab.
When asked if the week of horticulture camp is likely to influence future vocational decisions, he said “That due to this experience I plan to attend N C State University and study either biotechnology or biochemistry”. In addition his advise to anyone with similar interests, to apply for the scholarship next spring to attend camp next summer. Applications can be obtained May 2017 from The Watauga Extension Master Gardeners. The Watauga Cooperative Extension Service office is located at 971 W. King St.
Josiah added that he wishes to thank his horticulture teacher, Ms. Haigler, Extension Agent Paige Patterson and the Master Gardeners for making his time at horticulture camp possible. He summed up his experience as, “the best thing that has happened in my life, so far.”
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