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The Plant Enthusiast

Meet Megan Wilkins. Megan was born in San Diego, California, but her father’s job took her and her family to several exciting countries that include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Guatemala and Kuwait. She is a VT Hokie and is double majoring in Environmental Horticulture and Spanish along with a minor in International Agriculture.

As Megan describes it, horticulture is the more exciting side of agriculture. Some fun things associated with horticulture are specialty crops, greenhouse cultivations and ornamental plants!

Inspired by a biodiversity class she took in high school, Megan found her passion: plants! For this class Megan was to give a 60 second class presentation about a plant of her choosing. In preparation for this presentation, Megan’s mother took her to the botanical garden near her house in El Salvador. As soon as she set her foot inside, it was love at first sight! Megan was utterly in love with the Botanical Gardens. There, she picked out a small bunny ear cactus for her class assignment and from then on out, she found Horticulture to be something she’d be very passionate about. It seemed that shortly thereafter, her life would revolved around plant life.

This summer Megan worked as an intern at a landscaping company in Northern Virginia. She never thought she would want to work in landscaping, but once she started she realized how incredibly diverse the landscaping industry was. Although it involved plants, she realized this business wasn’t quite for her and it was something she really didn’t want to spend the rest of her life doing. She was grateful to have come across this great learning opportunity and try out something new. Megan’s internship did however, give her bragging rights as she installed a vegetable garden for Ryan Zimmerman, a player for the Washington Nationals!

Megan’s dream is to open greenhouses in Guatemala and grow plants that provide food for the community, as malnutrition and hunger remain huge issues throughout the country and Latin America. Megan says that if she can help people, she wants to contribute her part in making a difference where she can, which would be by implementing her agriculture knowledge into Latin communities.

It’s really cool that she wants to incorporate her passion into something beneficial for people in more deprived communities. Megan says she would also like to be sponsored by, or work alongside USAID (United States Aid for International Development) in their international endeavors. She says USAID has the resources and means to work in more challenging environments that make a greater impact for sustained periods of time.

Growing up overseas, Megan loved how the US Embassy provided opportunities to learn more about the countries where she lived and aimed to get families more immersed and involved in the different culture. She first handedly saw indigenous cultures and the issues involving food security which made her want to educate other people living overseas in how they can assist and change things for the better.

As a horticulture major I bet Megan get’s asked a lot of plant questions, so I went ahead and asked her what her favorite plant was, as I was curious. Turns out this was a hard question to answer! She couldn’t narrow her answer down to one, so she gave me her three favorite plants: ferns, cacti and succulents- as she loves the variety in each that exists. Her three favorite trees would be Weeping Willows, Reeking Higan Cherries (if you don’t know what this tree looks like, you should google image it- so beautiful!) and River Birches. But she loves Lavender and Eucalyptus as well! Now I understand how such a great plant variety can make this such a hard question for a plant lover… I also learned the coolest fact about plants I think I’ll ever know thanks to Megan. Apparently, there is a plant called Cassia that smells like popcorn! How cool is that? Just don’t eat it! I want a Cassia plant in my living room when I watch movies to make it feel more movie theatre-like, with a lingering popcorn scent.

Seems like Megan just can’t stay away from plants. Even her college home has no shortage of them. Megan and her roommate went all-out on the cactus/plant theme. They have two cactus tapestries, cactus coasters, cups, plates, shower curtain, pillows, a cookie jar they use to store bath bombs, a dish towel and many more items she just can’t remember off the top of her head.

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