For UMN Crookston senior, Jacoby McConkey, being in the greenhouse and working with plants is where he feels at ease. McConkey, majoring in horticulture with an emphasis on production horticulture, has always enjoyed being around plants, working with them, and seeing how plants make people happy. McConkey came to the UMN Crookston after an agriculture teacher that he had in high school recommended the horticulture program at the university.
“I had good mentorship growing up which got me into horticulture. I always had a passion for it since I was a little boy and I feel relaxed when I am in greenhouses. I get the same sensation every time. The feeling never gets old” says McConkey.
Since the 2018-2019 school year, McConkey has been president of the horticulture club on campus. They are involved in plant sales, they go as a group to the Northern Green Expo held in Minneapolis, as well as participate in the fall Mid-America Collegiate Horticulture Society (MACHS). In the MACHS participants compete with other schools in areas such as plant identification, general knowledge, basis of plants, and plant judging. These additional activities provide excellent opportunities for networking with peers from other institutions and industry leaders. McConkey has constantly been involved in all things horticulture on and off campus.
McConkey is currently working in the UMN Crookston Allen and Freda Pedersen Campus Garden. Recently, he and UMN Crookston newly assigned campus garden manager, Theresa Helgeson, discussed the planning of the garden layout and the vision of drawing interest to the garden. The goal was to simply get people to turn their heads and want to visit the vegetable gardens.
“It was a good opportunity to make a design,” stated McConkey during an interview.
Helgeson then asked him to come up with a garden design and McConkey got to work right away. For this project McConkey really had to rely on his knowledge of plant landscape.
The garden features a path that goes back and forth, a tunnel of gourds, cabbage, morning glories, and much more. Almost everything in the garden is edible.
The garden is still relatively new. McConkey predicts that it will likely really start taking off in mid-July. He will keep building, adding to it, and making sure he is taking care of the upkeep such as watering and weeding.
“Right now, the upkeep is super important. Watering the plants is crucial as they dry fast with the wind. Also it’s important to keep plants on track” stated McConkey.
Once McConkey finishes his last year at UMN Crookston, he hopes to one day become a manager or a curator of a botanical garden.