AGNR Featured Alum
Name: Lydia Printz
What was your major at UMD?
Agricultural Science and Technology: Environmental Horticulture with a minor in Sustainability Studies
When did you graduate?
What was your favorite UMD class?
- I loved Insect Pests of Ornamentals and Turf! One of the best lecture/lab courses I took, very interactive and fun.
- I also enjoyed the cut flower independent study I did with Meredith in the Institute of Applied Ag (IAA). That experience continues to help me in my job now.
- And I have to mention Ag Mechanics, another IAA class. Welding, plumbing, electrical, and then blacksmithing! That was an awesome hands-on class.
What is your current job title and company?
I work for Clear Ridge Nursery in Union Bridge, MD. We specialize in landscape quality native trees. I am the Nursery and Cut Flowers Assistant.
What are your major job/position responsibilities?
My main focus is the cut flowers. On a daily basis I handle email and phone communications with florists and designers throughout the DMV area. On the administrative side, I create our crop plan each year using Tend. I handle orders and I use Quickbooks on nearly a daily basis. I keep everything organized as I juggle weekly orders and deliveries on top of my field duties. The flower hustle, Cut Flowers by Clear Ridge is part of the Monocacy Valley Flower Co-op which is a collective of 6 growers in Frederick, Montgomery, and Carroll counties. I handle the behind the scenes for that as well. I consolidate our weekly flower availability on a platform called Airtable. I then create our weekly mailing list in MailChimp for both my job and the co-op. Really, the only thing I do not do for the flowers is decide which tulips and dahlias to grow and order them. Watering, harvesting, seeding, fertilizing, delivering, and all of the inbetweens sum up my daily tasks.
For the nursery, I assist where I’m needed as I’m needed. The two most important tasks I handle for the nursery are setting up and monitoring sensors and our bolt traps. We grow our trees in containers, pot in pot style, so the sensors allow us to monitor the moisture in those containers. The bolt traps are used to monitor Ambrosia beetles that like to bore into trees and lay eggs in the spring/early summer.
What do you enjoy most about your job/position?
I don’t know how to choose just one thing. I really love my job and that I’m in a career related to my college education. My coworkers are like a second family. I learn new things all of the time and my job is never boring or monotonous. The coolest thing about my job is probably our dahlias. We grow them in containers, line row after row in 3 greenhouses, and I get to harvest these beauties from June to November. I went from knowing nothing about dahlias to walking through rows naming the varieties by memory and assessing their production. I’ve also been able to connect with so many people that share a love for local blooms. In the last two years, I’ve witnessed the local flower movement grow tremendously. I think it is really cool to play a role in something so big.
What is the most challenging aspect of your current job/position?
Planning and prepping are probably the most challenging. Since the majority of my job is focused on cut flowers, there are many variables that are beyond my control that dictate the success or failure of what I’m doing. The biggest factor is weather and the climate. Our last frost date is early/mid May and that greatly determines what I can and can’t grow. It also forces me to hold seedlings in our greenhouse longer before I feel comfortable planting them in the field. The nursery is the bread and butter, so sometimes my priorities are not priority, so it takes a lot of communication and coordination to get the ball rolling each spring but by June, things are typically smooth sailing.
What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Natural Resources?
- There is so much I wish I could share. Make connections and network, even if you have to step outside of your comfort zone. Take the time to explore opportunities-work in a professor’s lab for a semester or two, do an independent study, join a club, or attend seminars. If you have a favorite professor, find out if they have a research project you can help with (sometimes they’ll pay you!). By doing this, you’ll learn about yourself and what sort of work you want to do after college.
- I tried research and lab work for a brief time at UMD and quickly learned that was not where my passions were rooted. Once I took on a student position with the Campus Arboretum, I found myself, finally felt like a part of UMD, and I was able to make a difference across campus.
- Pay attention to bulletin boards, especially in the Plant Sciences building. Job opportunities and scholarships were always pinned to those boards when I was at UMD.
- Take time to actually enjoy your classes, even those labs that feel like they never end. In the field of ag and natural resources, you will apply what you learned if not on a daily basis, at least on a weekly one.
- Have fun with your electives! Branch out and try something totally unrelated to your major. I took a course about wildlife and natural resources because of my love for the outdoors. It filled credits I needed and it was a refreshing break from my major’s requirements.