Arborist Apprentice/Groundsperson at Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens in Whidbey Island, WA, USA
For my Co-op term, I had the wonderful opportunity to work for Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens. Located on Whidbey Island in the state of Washington, USA the gardens are 10 acres of cultivated plantings, focusing on the rhododendron genus and 43 acres of preserved Northwest Coastal woodland. During my time here I have worked as a groundskeeper and assistant gardener, building and maintaining trails as well as caring for the garden’s permanent and seasonal plantings. I have also assisted at the nursery in the garden, with sales, inventory, and propagation efforts. Finally, I was able to develop and implement an ecology tour program for Meerkerk, including two children’s tours, a tour for the Master Gardener Association, and an adult ecology tour through the garden’s forested property. I have really enjoyed my Co-op work term. It has helped me gain valuable experience applying my studies in a real-world context. I was able to work in a beautiful place with friendly, knowledgeable people. Being able to create my own environmental education program and helping to maintain the garden and nursery has really expanded my knowledge in ways that a class would not have been able to. Gaining hands-on experience in my field is the reason I joined Co-op, and the reason I could encourage others to join as well.