Alumni spotlight: Stacey Noble

2011, B.S. Horticulture

Advisor(s): Neil Anderson; Jeff Gibson

Current organization/ employer: Ball Horticultural Company/Burpee Home Gardens

Favorite memory of campus:
One of my favorite memories of the St. Paul campus was stepping off of the bus and walking by the barns to the greenhouses. Growing up on a farm near Blooming Prairie, MN, I always found joy in finding areas around campus that reminded me of home. St. Paul was a home away from home for me. The amount of green space that is available to students on the St. Paul Campus makes the large University seem much smaller and personable.

Another one of my favorite memories was working in the greenhouses during the long winter months. Not only was I able to relieve some of my winter blues but I was also able to learn a great deal from the people working in them as well.

Why did you choose CFANS as a college?
When I first attended the U of M, I was studying biology through the College of Biological Sciences. After two years, I was beginning to find myself missing home and the farm. During a football game my sophomore year, I met a friend in the horticulture program who was studying turfgrass management. He had mentioned to me that he thought CFANS and the horticulture program might be a good fit. After his advice, I contacted the college and the rest, they say, is history.

Why do you think the University of Minnesota is great?
What I love about the University of Minnesota is that there are so many opportunities for students. Students can participate in a broad range of clubs, organizations, travel, and sports while also meeting fellow students from all over the world. Coming from a very small town of 2,000 people, I wanted to expose myself to new experiences and culture as much as I could and going to the University of Minnesota provided me with that opportunity.

Another feature that I found to be true throughout my studies was the fact that the University is very large but once you find your niche it becomes very small. I found after joining CFANS, and the horticulture program, I was able to connect with people more personally and was so appreciative to find other students that were just as, if not more, passionate about plants than I was.

Career information/ professional achievements:
My senior year of college, I attended a career and internship fair through CFANS and landed my first job as a Master Gardener for a company named LandSculpt Inc. After 7 months working for them, I realized that I wanted to find a career in horticulture that could provide me with work year round and full-time.

After leaving LandSculpt Inc., I took a job as an Inside Sales Representative for Koehler and Dramm Wholesale Florist in Minneapolis, MN. I really enjoyed working for Koehler and Dramm because I was able to learn so much about the cut flower industry and the role it plays in the United States and throughout the world. During that time, I also gained valuable sales skills that translated into becoming a stellar sales person for Koehler. As a representative, I was able to meet people from all of over the 5-state area and many growers in the industry which helped me in my next career move.

After almost 3 years with Koehler and Dramm, I decided that I wanted to change my career path to fit more of the greenhouse management and floriculture degree that I received through CFANS. Because of that mindset, I looked for jobs throughout the industry and found one with Ball Horticultural as one of their Burpee Home Gardens Program reps.

Ball Horticultural was a company that I learned about through the horticultural program while in my floriculture class with Neil Anderson. I feel very fortunate to be working for the largest distributor of horticulture product in the United States and cannot wait to see where this company takes me.

What's your passion? What do you love about your work and your field?
I have a passion for plants, flowers, and anything nature related. I am a very lucky person to wake up every day and work with products that I truly love. The reason that I'm so passionate about this industry is that many of the people I have met remind me of my family back home. Working with family-owned greenhouses throughout the country, reminds me of my own farm in southeastern Minnesota. The growers, retailers, buyers, etc., that I have met all have a passion that can be compared to how my dad, uncle, grandfather, and brother feel about our farm. There is nothing to describe that feeling besides: that is what I truly love.

Another thing that I find empowering about this industry and working for Ball and Burpee Home Gardens is that I have the ability to help influence and shape where horticulture is heading. One problem that I have seen over and over again is the need for qualified employees in the industry. I want to use my story and share my passion to help influence others find their way in this vast career field.

How did your education at the U of M help prepare you for what you are doing today?
After growing up in a wonderful small town, I was ready to discover all that the world could offer. Attending the University of Minnesota pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to gain necessary skills to succeed both personally and professionally. Learning to navigate city buses, meeting new people each and every day, and hearing others' life experiences have all shaped me into the business professional that I am today and I have the University of Minnesota to thank for that.

In the horticulture program, I gained many key contacts that would later help me in finding and landing a job at Ball Horticultural Company. I gained valuable knowledge throughout my courses but, more importantly, I formed close friendships and essential contacts along the way.

What advice do you have for current students (and future alumni)?
Network. Network. Network.

Do not ever stop talking to people. Throughout my short career, I have found that it's not always about what you know but who you know. As a frequent flier, I'm constantly talking to people on the plane and in the airport because you never know who you might meet. When I am at tradeshows or industry events, I'm constantly talking to others to find out their persepective on the industry and learn as much as I can.

A second piece of advice that I would like to share is: find your passion. If you find your passion, work will be a whole lot easier for you. I am not saying that every day is a good day but loving what you do makes the bad days that much easier to get through.