Alum of the Month: Christina Riessen, Perennial Production Person at Bachman’s Inc.

Christina Riessen graduated in Horticulture and Agriculture & Life Sciences Education (teacher certification option) in December 2014.  Christina is from Schleswig, Iowa.

Christina’s major job responsibilities are assisting the perennial production manager in overseeing a crew to ship, plant and maintain container perennials.  When the department is at a low point, she aids with greenhouse, container shrubs and trees, and other aspects of production.

We asked Christina what she likes most about her position.  I love continually learning the best tactics to produce quality plants efficiently alongside driven, upbeat colleagues.  My teaching skills come in handy while training crew members how to do our next project, which is a personal pleasure.  Another perk is that I get to learn other languages (mostly Spanish) while on the job because most of my coworkers speak limited English.  It’s especially intriguing when we share about our cultures-language, holidays, family events, food, slang and much more.

Following is the advice Christina offers to current students:  Spend time getting work experience before you try to climb the managerial ladder too quickly.  Your education can be a valuable investment to give you background knowledge of how’s and why’s (like the importance of knowing which buds to prune in order to properly shape maples), but you will be all the wiser to learn from the people who excel in the tedious grunt work in the fields due to their depth of knowledge from years of hands-on experience.  Plus they’ll have more respect for you if you spend some time doing the work alongside them before you jump in to manage them.  Then you will be more aware of what things create positive and negative work environments so you can mold a destination workplace.
How can you start getting work experience?  Do various internships instead of simply a summer job.  Join Horticulture Club or other student organizations to obtain some practice working with others.  Attend conferences, competitions, and continuing education events (ie. Shade Tree Short Course, conveniently on Iowa State’s campus) to give you invaluable connections, and potentially future coworkers and friends.