Cynthia Faith '12 on the Talcott Greenhouse

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Cynthia Faith FP ‘12 works at our very own Talcott Greenhouse. An Environmental Studies major, Cynthia says that she started working at the Botanic Garden because she wanted to educate people about the environment. “I love the outside. I love working in a place where I can get to meet people and then get them to explore,” says Cynthia.

Cynthia joined the Greenhouse staff a year ago, and last Spring, the team along with Cynthia’s help, presented one of the finest Spring Flower Shows. As planning for the show begins in the Fall semester, last year Cynthia only had the chance to coordinate the flowers and to work with the visitors. To prepare for this year’s show, she had the opportunity to do much more. Cynthia says “there is so much preparation that goes into an event of that size.” The Greenhouse staff must first decide on a theme, and then begin planning by considering which plants to propagate and how to present them in the space. This year’s Annual Flower Show, “Orchard and Vine,” is currently on display at the Greenhouse from Saturday, March 5 until Sunday, March 20, 2011. This a free event and open to the public. It showcases hundreds of spring-blossoming bulbs and plants; attendees may see on display hyacinths, narcissus, pansies, freesia, primroses, tulips, and many other lucky plants.

Besides all the work that goes into preparing and maintaining the flower show, this 6,000 square foot Greenhouse must also be sustained daily, since three-fourths of the space is devoted to keeping up the permanent collection of plants. For that reason, Cynthia works at the Greenhouse twice a week. She says that on average about eight to ten students come in. “I am surprised there are not more students,” Cynthia says. Although the bulk of the tourists that visit the place are Mount Holyoke alumna, there are also school trips and groups of children visit to learn about plants. Cynthia says, “I get jealous of the teachers, it seems like such a fantastic job. The children always come alive in the Greenhouse because the entire experience is so interactive. I always loved how plants can do that to children.” Although there is constant work to be done, Cynthia says “as much as I love working with plants, I really enjoy helping the people coming in. I am a people person, I like to communicate with the outside public.”

Cynthia says that her work experience at the Talcott Greenhouse reinforces her desire to be outside and to have more hands-on opportunities. Whether she is answering questions about plants, or working independently on a plot of land, she is learning so much. “I haven’t taken many classes about plants. But this is pushing me to take more. I am noticing things that I wouldn’t get out of a textbook or a class. It has helped me see how things work,” says Cynthia.

Her professional goal is to work at a place where the public can interact with the natural environment. The lessons she learns at the Greenhouse will help when she will begin educating people about plants, insects, and the earth. This is important to her because Cynthia values the knowledge she has gained from learning about different plants. “I am passionate about how they grow, where they grow, and how people use them. This knowledge is the most exciting thing and the most applicable for my future career and life.”

For Cynthia, the Greenhouse has challenged and disciplined her in many ways, and she continues to return there because of the people. “They are so great, so knowledgeable, and they trust my knowledge and ability with visitors and with doing the work. I love this job so much that I find myself talking about this work to my classmates and to people in my community. Since I joined, I have been encouraging a lot more people to visit the Greenhouse.”

“Go there, especially when it’s cold or the wintertime. It’s such a great escape, like stepping into another world,” says Cynthia.