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Cal Poly Pomona Joins TreeTown USA for Nursery Internships

Program Shapes Students' Future Endeavors

Cal Poly Pomona Joins TreeTown USA for Nursery Internships

This summer, Cal Poly Pomona's Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture partnered with wholesale nursery, TreeTown USA, to offer internships to college students. The students have gained invaluable work experience and shared what the opportunity has brought them so far.

Huston Albachten, a plant science senior assigned to the nursery's 200-acre growing facility in Perris, Calif., enjoys working in a variety of areas. "No day is the same," he said. "I'll be in the office learning about sales and production, then I'll be on the nursery grounds learning about plant health and scouting. I enjoy interacting with different departments and understanding the complexities of each task."

The student's work at the nursery has afforded him the opportunity to apply the knowledge he's gained through plant science coursework to a field technology application acquired by the organization. "The app helps TreeTown USA accurately assess pest pressure in the field and make better planning decisions," he stated.

Albachten's internship with TreeTown USA has led him to consider a post-graduate career in the nursery industry.

Neil Pathak, a plant science senior, is exploring the business side of the nursery industry at TreeTown USA's 270-acre growing grounds in Fallbrook, Calif.

"I get to experience a nursery operation from an insider's perspective," he said. "Each week, I've been assigned to a different business unit-from finance to production. What I've learned along the way is that the horticulture industry is very detailed," he continued.

Pathak says his time at Fallbrook has surprised him. "I can definitely see myself working in the nursery industry more than I did before the internship."

Sam Broderick, a plant science senior, was assigned to the company's 200-acre facility in San Diego. Broderick was tasked with increasing the nursery's productivity rates.
"I've been working on ways to improve the efficiency of our canning operation," he said. "For weeks, I've collected data on how the canning machine impacts production. Initially, the machine was a total alien to me, but after working the line long enough, I gained a thorough understanding of the process."

Broderick says the internship experience has become a way of life. "What's been invaluable is the expertise and knowledge I am getting in the field. Now that I've learned proper pruning techniques, I walk around my neighborhood and look at trees very differently."

The participants in the internship were incorporated into TreeTown USA's employee team and corporate culture and will make a formal presentation with process improvement recommendations to the company's leadership at the program's conclusion.

"When our interns finish their summer with us," said Terri Cook, TreeTown USA's senior vice president of human resources, "we hope they will walk away with an understanding how practical, hands-on experience in the workplace can add life lessons that can't be taught in courses."



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September 16, 2019, 9:40 pm PDT

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