Tag Archives: people

People: From Hiking to Horticulture

Scout Dahms-May

I am originally from the great city of Tacoma, Washington. I went to an outdoors based high school where my love for plants and environmentalism blossomed. My favorite class was our version of “PE”, where we hiked through Point Defiance Park identifying native species. This passion drove me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at the University of Redlands. Moving to Redlands in Southern California was a stark contrast to my home in Puget Sound, but I grew to love most parts of it!

Scout collecting samples
Scout collects samples

I went on many abroad terms and saw amazing parts of the world such as Peru, Ethiopia, and Iceland. Each time I returned I wished I had been there longer and itched to immerse myself even more in a different country.  Once I graduated from Redlands, the natural next step was to join the Peace Corps. I spent two years in the Southeast corner of Senegal, West Africa. I lived in a 100-person village in the region of Kedougou where I learned to speak Jaxanke. As an Agroforestry Extension Agent, I helped with various agriculture and agroforestry projects.  We created small-scale nurseries, collected seeds, showcased new and improved agroforestry techniques, and outplanted trees and shrubs around the village. I loved my time in Senegal and miss being there constantly.

After returning to the United States, I moved to Eugene, OR to work at Dorena Genetic Resource Center. I assisted the lead horticulturist in end-to-end native plant restoration, collecting/processing seed, and producing native plants to restore areas affected by fires, floods, and construction. I became the lead irrigator, which was a new problem-solving and damp adventure, and led seed collection trips across Oregon. I also helped develop a seed collection mapping application to track plant populations and store seed collection data.

This leads me to OSU! I just started at OSU this fall to pursue my Masters in Horticulture and work in the Nackley Lab. I am partnered with Sadie Keller on a project looking at stem hydraulics and how it relates to drought in shade trees. I am new to this type of research but am so eager to learn more! I am excited to get our stem hydraulics lab up and running and start the journey of data collection.

People: Oregon bound and down; From the land of sun to the land of clouds

Brent Warneke

Brent inside the west cave of Monkey Face, Smith Rock State Park.

I grew up in Littleton, Colorado amid the suburbs of Denver. Although I was a suburb kid, I grew up gardening from an early age, which sparked my love for plants. Going with what I was interested in, I decided to pursue a degree in something plant related at Colorado State University. I ended up studying horticulture, but took a wide range of classes including brewing technology, microbiology, biochemistry and business. Throughout my time at CSU I worked in a couple different lab groups, one that studied biofuel production and another that was focused on cryopreservation of vegetatively propagated crops. Working in the labs got me interested in science. I took a plant pathology course my senior year and loved how it was an integration of things I had learned in horticulture, microbiology, and other sciences.

Eventually I obtained my BS in Horticultural Science and a minor in Business Administration at CSU. I had such a good time learning about science and working in labs that I decided to pursue graduate school. I looked at a few universities throughout the USA but the prospect of working on specialty crops (fruits and nuts) had me more excited than working on field crops. I ended up landing at Oregon State University in the Botany and Plant Pathology Department. The project I worked on had me investigating fungicide resistance and grape powdery mildew management and I was fortunate to travel to many vineyards throughout the state to take samples and work with growers. Over the course of my Master’s degree I was able to present data from my research at two national plant pathology conferences, one in Tampa, FL and the other in San Antonio, TX, two places I had never been before. These experiences were very useful to hone my science communication skills which I use a lot in my current position.

Brent at Glacier Lake while backpacking in the Eagle Cap wilderness.

After I finished my MS degree I started my current position working on the Intelligent Sprayer project at OSU with Drs. Lloyd Nackley and Jay Pscheidt. The part of the project I fit into investigates using the Intelligent Sprayer to manage grape powdery mildew with various fungicide regimes and investigating sprayer coverage in hazelnut and nursery crops. This has been a great fit for me as I have been able to apply what I learned during my MS and strengthen my research and writing skills. As with all agriculture, we come up with a plan every year and have ideas about how everything will go, but something always surprises us. During the season it’s always a push to collect all the data we need, but when the season is over it is very interesting to sit down, go through the data, and make graphs and connections as to how the treatments we applied fared. Writing up the data into informative reports, and in doing so, making connections to past literature while abstracting it into the future is another part of the process that makes me love what I do.

The 50 gallon air-blast sprayer retrofitted with the Intelligent Spray System connected to a Kubota M5-111 tractor that powers the unit.

I’ve been fortunate to live in two different states that are great for my outdoor oriented lifestyle. I grew up camping, fishing, backpacking, canoeing and skiing in Colorado. I have since gotten into rock climbing, rafting and kayaking, and hunting in Oregon, and especially love spending time on the Oregon coast. If I were to give some advice to someone following a similar career path to me I would tell them to always be open to opportunities and to get out of their comfort zone regularly.