Intern Spotlight: Lydia Printz
The University of Maryland’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden seeks to connect students with the campus in a way that other campus organizations can’t; that is, through horticulture. Not only does the campus Arboretum focus on connecting volunteers with different gardens and landscapes around campus, but we also provide several internship opportunities for students who want to take things a step above regularly volunteering. This year, we looked to fill and expand the arborist, food gardens, stormwater, and tree inventory internship positions. Today’s intern spotlight shines on Lydia Printz, Campus Food Garden Intern.
Lydia is a self-described, “Super Senior”, and is set to graduate this semester with a degree in Agricultural Science and Technology-Environmental Horticulture with a minor in Sustainability Studies. You could say Lydia was practically raised to pursue a degree in plant sciences; she grew up in a family that regularly gardened, and were frequent customers at the local garden centers where she would often ask her parents if she could take a new plant home. In the summers, Lydia fondly remembers taking trips to local orchards and then helping her mom make jars and cans of fruit and preserves. She felt a sense of pride when bringing a can of peaches into school that she prepared herself. Along with her family life, Lydia was also an active 4H camper, and loved working with the pigs and dairy cows on the farms.
Lydia began her time here at the Arboretum after she met Meg at a scholarship event. She eagerly reached out to Meg out of a long-lived desire to hone her skills as a horticultural professional outside of the classroom, and become more active in the Arboretum staff’s work around campus. Since August of 2017 Lydia has been the campus food gardens intern, and has played a huge role in the betterment and care of our gardens, and assisting Meg in the coordination and leading of student volunteer groups.
During the fall of 2017, Lydia’s major responsibility was running volunteer garden hours at the Community Learning Garden, located between Eppley and the School of Public Health. The faculty advisor for the garden was on extended leave, which gave Lydia the chance to run the garden a little herself. It wasn’t without it challenges however, as leading volunteer groups takes quite a bit of coordination and communication. Twice a week Lydia led volunteers through the myriad of tasks that accompany taking care of the garden including weeding, seed planting, harvesting, and cover cropping to name a few. Along with her campus food garden duties, Lydia would provide upkeep for our Chef’s Garden, a collection of cooking herbs located in front of the Stamp student union that are regularly donated to the campus pantry. Even if that wasn’t already enough for a full-time student, she also assisted Meg in leading volunteers for various other projects and events like horticultural plantings, mulching beds, and plant installations in the rain gardens located on the grounds of UMD’s golf course.
As Lydia continued to intern into the Spring of 2018, she found more opportunities ripe for the picking. Lydia continued to co-lead the Community Learning Garden’s volunteer hours. Lydia was also given the opportunity to attend and take place in regular discussion and planning meetings with the Arboretum’s management staff. In the spring Lydia also really began taking on the Chef’s Garden and making it a project of her own. She found this particular garden very rewarding because of how the smell of the herbs would catch the attention of those passing by. She adorned the garden with educational signs she designed herself, and continues to take great pride in its upkeep and enhancement. Her current aim is to make the signs in the garden available in multiple languages online to make their knowledge as accessible as possible.
Lydia has bright hopes for the future. She has said that she would love to continue her work with Meg and for the Arboretum if the opportunity presented itself. She also has a great interest in possibly pursuing work with the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, the US Botanic Gardens, and the National Park Service. She would also like to have her own small side business producing cut flowers and produce.
For the interview I had with Lydia to help put together this article, she had some thoughts she wanted to express about the work that is done for our campus arboretum and its habitant flora. Lydia finds her passion for the world of plants in the innumerable benefits and great beauty they have to offer. She feels grateful to be part of an organization that helps beautify our campus and enriches the lives of everyone who comes to visit. The ecological benefits of our campus collection are something she has great respect for as well, the benefits to our soils, out water, our air, and the surrounding ecosystems keep her dedicated. In closing are some thoughts and loves Lydia wanted to share about her experiences at the Arboretum, and some words of encouragement to students looking for their passion:
What Lydia likes most about her work:
-Every time I walk into work or return from a vacation always greeted with smiles and encouragement and kind words.
- The Arboretum is like a second family where I can be my plant nerd self with no judgement.
-Having been involved all over campus in various projects.
-Having pride in knowing I am contributing to my campus community.
-Gaining so many skills and hands on experience that make me look great when it comes to applying for a job post-graduation.
-Nothing is dull or ever the same.
-I am able to influence my fellow students, educate them about the world around them, get people excited about horticulture, invoke change, share opportunities I wish I had known sooner with 1st and 2nd year students.
Some words of encouragement:
Push yourself out of your way. When you hear about opportunities that sound interesting to you, do not allow yourself to begin making excuses or crafting reasons as to why you can’t do it. Instead, give yourself a pep talk filled with countless reasons as to why you could do it. Asking questions doesn’t equal commitment. If you hear about an opportunity that you may want to pursue, go ahead and ask clarifying questions. Get the information you need to make an informed decision. Just because you ask, doesn’t mean you have made any type of commitment, but asking questions does prove your interest and creates an impression. Put your happiness first and don’t be afraid to quit. I used to be in a professional organization on campus. I had joined it hoping to build my resume, make friends with people with a similar agricultural oriented mindset, and become involved in something related to my interests. Very quickly, I became unhappy in that organization. I allowed myself to be wrapped up in the time and money I had already put into being a part of that group that I allowed myself to continue to suffer through it. After talking with my family, I decided to put my happiness first. I looked at the good things I had experienced or gained from the short time I was a part of that organization and I evaluated all the things that made me unhappy there. I wasn’t happy because I had joined thinking, I would be involved on campus more, that I would be able to learn about opportunities specific to my career interests, and that we would do things that revolved around [my interests]. So, I dropped out of that organization and looked for opportunities that got me involved on campus, helped me learn about opportunities in my career field of interest, and put me in the position to do things with my hands related to horticulture and gardening. With that said, work those networks. I would not be an intern for the campus arboretum if I hadn’t worked my networks and taken a chance.
If you'd like to volunteer and be an intern, please check out our calendar of events and the "Volunteer" tab on our website.
Written by Intern Mark Santamaria