Armitage Scholarship Recipient Reflects on Conversations at CAST 2018

Danny-Takao-Allan-Armitage-Andrew-Scheldorf
Dr. Allan Armitage introduces his CAST Scholarship winner, Andrew Scheldorf, to Danny Takao of Takao Nursery. Andrew has met a lot of great people so far this week!!

People are what make things special. People are the ones who enjoy the beauty of a garden, feel the thrill that an orange and red bicolor dahlia gives, or enjoy the soft feather-like touch of a silvery artemisia. It’s not just people who buy and plant plants who are special, it’s also those who grow them, who breed them, and who market and bring them to sale.

“If you need anything let me know.” “I know some people who could help with that, let me give you their names.” “I can look that up for you and send you that information if that helps you.” I heard phrases like that all day at the California Spring Trials, day two.

The people who I have been able to meet and talk with over the last two days, and especially today, have been some of the kindest, most willing to help, and most passionate people that I have met in a long time. As a student who is hoping to become a plant breeder, it means a lot to me that people who are established in that field are willing to sit down with me and discuss how this plant was bred, what is the story behind this, and what are their goals for the future. It also helps to be tagging along with Dr. Armitage to get some of these stories.

The story of how the plant was made, what trials and tribulations it took to bring this plant to the market is one of the things that I have truly been enjoying on this trip. Of course, on top of that I am learning a lot from Dr. Armitage and the other plants-people who I have met, but some of these stories and conversations have been amazing.

I have been able to meet and discuss plants with some of the people who made the plants that I have in my garden back home in Minnesota. The best part is that they want to talk about these plants; they want to tell these stories. Usually somewhere in these talks, I am able to weave my own story into the conversation, and people are always willing to help with advice, contacts, or direction of what to do next. Not every field is like that, not everywhere can a student walk up to a professional and have a serious conversation about what that person does, and how they could eventually get there.

Nearly everyone I have met is excited for new people to enter the field, excited to teach me something in the short amount of time that they have to talk to me, and happy to answer my questions, no matter how silly they may sound. I hope that my experience here at the California Spring Trials continues to be so positive, and that I can continue to hear these amazing stories from even more amazing people.

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